Navigating Challenges Abroad


One of the reasons for my absence from the blog has been my prolonged illness. I always get sick after plane rides, so it was not a surprise that I got sick on my third day in London. What I was not expecting was to be sick for nearly six weeks. Navigating the National Health System here has been interesting and, at times, frustrating.

The walk-in clinics here are like Urgent Cares in the United States. They are useful for mornings when you wake up with something you fear is more than a cold. However, if you are really sick I recommend registering with a general practitioner. This was something I kept putting off, so when I woke up one morning at my worst, I had to go to a private practice and pay out of pocket. Luckily, I am now being properly medicated and can hopefully enjoy the second half of the semester healthy.

What I’ve learned from this is to better prepare and research the health care system before going abroad. Bring all the medication you will need, bring all the supplements you normally take at home (they may be prescription-only abroad), and have a plan in order because chances are you will get at least a cold at some point.

Of course, my illnesses dim in comparison to the coronavirus epidemic. While the U.K. is isolated from continental Europe, it is still alarming to see other abroad students be forced to leave their programs. I know Wisconsin programs in Italy were canceled. I would be crushed if I was them, so I can’t complain.

What I’ve Been Up To 

School so far has been far easier than my classes at UW— as they should be— since a big part of abroad is traveling and exploring the city rather than cooped up in a library.

I just finished spring break! My dad was able to visit for a few days. We explored London and took a day trip to Bath. We hit up tons of museums like the Tate Modern, Natural History, Science, Imperial War and Victoria and Albert. I had not been to the Imperial War Museum or heard much about it, but it is a great place and like all of the others it is free. After my dad left, I met up with my two good friends for a long weekend in Ireland. We spent three out of the four days in Dublin which is such a fun and welcoming city. I highly recommend checking out the Guinness Storehouse, Trinity College and Kilmainham Gaol.

Kiersten and I having afternoon tea at The Delaunay before break
My dad and I took a day trip to Bath to check out the Roman Baths (obviously)!
Checking out the Cliffs of Mohr with Julia and Maggie!

Next Up

I start the internship portion of the semester this week. I will be working at a company that makes organic and vegan dog products. I don’t have any experience working in an area like that, so I am a bit nervous to see how fast I can adapt. It sounds like I will be doing social media management, content creation and some marketing which will all be useful skills as a journalism major. My biggest concern about the internship is that the commute is roughly 90 minutes. I have never worked more than 20 minutes away from my home. It will be tough to spend three hours a day on a train, but hopefully, I will adjust after the first week or so.

Overall, abroad has not been as smooth as I anticipated. It is such a strange time to be abroad. Every day I hear about programs getting canceled and worried that London will be hit next. My grandparents can no longer come because they are worried they may get stuck here. As of now, my Wisconsin roommates and parents are still coming in a week. I am crossing my fingers nothing changes!! Everything is happening so quickly and suddenly, so for now, I am just trying to enjoy each day fully.