It is now coming to the two year anniversary of the day that I flew to California to start my four month adventure of living and working in Irvine, Orange County, so my first blog post is going to celebrate exactly that! I took part in the BUNAC Work America program during the summer of the my first year of University, and I can honestly say it has still been one of my greatest experiences and biggest achievements to date. Because of this amazing experience I believe that there are so many different reasons as to why I would recommend that everyone should live abroad at least once in their lifetime, so here goes…
Getting on the plane will be one of the most nerve wrecking but exhilarating moments of the whole experience.
Leaving my friends, family and everything I was familiar with and getting onto a plane to a place I had never been before was incredibly scary, but an amazing buzz all the same. I was so excited, and for the entire flight, the possibilities of what were ahead of me were endless.
People will make you feel comfortable and welcome.
Moving into a flat with complete strangers was one of the things I was most nervous about, but as soon as I got there and I met one of my flatmates, she offered to take me shopping for essentials and I knew that I was going to be absolutely fine. By the end of my first night my flatmates and their friends had already taken me out for Mexican food and for a walk up ‘Turtle Rock’, where I could see the whole of Orange County! Yes it will be nerve wrecking, but chances are you will make some amazing friends.
You can get lost and it is perfectly acceptable.
My second day in California I got on a bus and asked if their route went towards the beach not really caring if I was going to be laughed at or considered a tourist. The bus driver was SO friendly and he gave me a free bus ticket for the whole day so I could travel around as much as I wanted and still be able to get home okay. I ended up spending the afternoon getting lost on public transport and ended the day by sitting at Laguna Beach, which was amazing! Getting lost in a foreign country is perfectly acceptable, and sometimes how you end up getting some of your best memories.
You get to experience a different culture.
This one goes without saying, but taking the time to experience a different culture is definitely something everyone should do once in their life. Not only is it interesting, but it gives you experiences and stories you can talk about and share for the rest of your life.
People will want to hear about your life back home.
Being the ‘girl from London’ was actually pretty awesome in America, and most of the people I met wanted to hear all about it. It felt great as everything I was talking about was new and different, people were genuinely interested in my life back home.
There is so many different types of food to try, most of them will be delicious.
If you are a foodie, like me, then this is something to definitely look forward to. There are so many different types of food to try. Since my trip I now have a new found love for Mexican food, but before I went I was scared to try anything with even a little bit of spice! It is a chance to try new things and be a little bit more open minded, that’s for sure!
You get to take part in different holidays and traditions.
Even if it was slightly strange and awkward for an English girl to celebrate 4th of July and Labor Day, it was still pretty awesome to see what traditions Americans had for these holidays and to share them with locals. I watched fireworks on the beach, saw a fantastic parade at Huntington Beach and went to the Orange County street fair to celebrate the occasions. It was great to have a couple of extra days off work too!! Even if it is something you wouldn’t normally celebrate, it doesn’t hurt to get involved and experience it, especially if you have a good group of friends surrounding you!
You can travel to places that may not be easy to travel to normally.
Whilst in America I didn’t get to travel as much as I’d of liked as I was on a working visa and I was working Monday to Friday 9-5! I did however get to travel to both Mexico and Boston before I went home, which are two place’s I definitely wouldn’t have been able to get to if I had spent the summer in the UK! Its a great chance to take the opportunity of cheap airfare, rail tickets and coach rides and travel to places that would normally cost a fortune to get to from your home country.
You will realise how much your family and friends back home mean to you.
Although you are having an amazing time, you will miss everyone back home, and being away from them for so long will make you realise how much they do actually mean to you. I Face Timed with my Mum and Dad every morning, and with my Brother most days that I was away. I can honestly say the whole experience definitely brought us closer, despite the fact we were miles apart.
You will gain a lot more independence.
When you move to a new country a lot of things are different to how you would imagine, for example the simple things like public transport system or shopping for food. Having to learn something you can normally navigate easily at home all over again is actually quite difficult. and it gives you a lot more independence! Being so far away from the people that would usually help you out and having to fend for yourself more means that you will have the chance to develop skills you probably didn’t think you would even need.
You will make friends that mean the world to you.
I know a lot of people who have lived abroad will agree with me, but one of the best things you can take away from the experiences is the friendships that you will make. I made a lot of great friends while living in California, and some of them are probably my closest friends even now!