Going Abroad While Abroad

As I write this, I am sitting on my next semester roommate’s bed in Vanderslice Hall (Vandy). Yes, I am NOT in London—or in another European city like I’m supposed to be—but instead, I’m in Boston.

You may be thinking “WHAT is this girl, who is meant to be studying abroad in London, doing back at Boston College in the middle of the semester?!”
This exact sentence is what a lot of people yelled at me when they saw me walking around campus or standing in line waiting to get a wrap in Lower.
Therefore, you could think of this as a public announcement for the BC community to reveal why I’m currently eating some comforting mozzarella sticks in my next semester’s housing.

I am an unusual study abroad student. For starters, I’m already studying abroad at BC as an international student. My home is actually 7,000 miles away from Boston, in the bustling city of Dubai.

Coming to BC two years ago was Step 1 in leaving my comfort zone and moving to an entirely new city with a different set of rules. Navigating the ins and outs of an on-campus life took all my energy and efforts—now, I can successfully say that I found a home away from home at BC (as cliche as that sounds).

BC became such a dominant part of my life that ever since I left campus at the end of last semester on May 14th, I had been counting down days until I got to visit it again. Since my term in London started on Sept. 21, I had a painfully long four-month summer in which I was apart from everything and everyone I loved so dearly at BC. To say I was experiencing separation anxiety would perhaps be an understatement—I was actually experiencing severe withdrawal.

In addition to growing up outside of India (my native country) in Dubai, I have had the extreme privilege of travelling to numerous countries with my parents for various medical conferences and meetings.

A couple of summers ago, my sister and I counted that as a family we have visited over 48 countries! One of these many countries has been the United Kingdom, with approximately five visits to London in the last 21 years.

These trips were all mostly touristy ones, and as a result, most of central London is quite familiar to me. This fact ment that going to “study abroad” in London had zero novelty for me. (Note to the reader—in case you’re wondering, I chose to study at SOAS, University of London purely for its incredibly diverse course selection that will enrich my majors here at BC.)

Familiarity has both pros and cons, as I had a head start on what it would be like to live in London, as compared to all the other study abroad students at my college. It also made me stand out like a black sheep as I was not discovering a new city along with the rest of them, however.

Acting as a tour guide for my new friends was a great middle ground for the first month, but after a while I began to feel sick of seeing the standard London spots like the Big Ben, the London Eye, the many street markets, and so on.

Instead, I began to focus on living like a proper university student and felt much more content that way. While the other study abroad students were disappearing practically every weekend to experience cities like Paris, Barcelona, and Munich, I was busy getting to know my flatmates and experiencing the true student life.

I was effectively behaving like a proper London student, which is a whole new experience on its own. Behaving like a foreign student in a country other than my own is a practice with which I am fairly familiar, however, and at the risk of sounding pompous, it was a cakewalk for me in London.

I am assuming that it is now established that I am quite a strange study abroad student who is “studying abroad a second degree” in a city that I have already explored many times before. Hence, realising that I had two weeks off in the middle of my semester abroad sparked one of the easiest decisions I have ever had to make—I decided to spend one week in each of my homes, Dubai and Boston. This is why I am here.

Featured Image by Jose Martin / Unsplashed.com