Katrina Mansmann

Red, rattling double-decker buses and speeding black cabbies were throttling towards me from three different directions as I continued to skip back and forth across the black and white stripes of the famous Abbey Road pedestrian crosswalk, but it really didn’t bother me that I was blocking traffic for a quick photo shoot, because it’s not every day that you find yourself walking through the iconic cover of the Beatles’ Abbey Road album, taking the same steps on the very same street in the very same St. John’s Wood, London neighborhood as the Beatles did forty years ago, and knowing that you actually made it to the other side. For me, living in England for five and a half months was a series of these incredible moments—of England living up to everything I thought it would be, time after time, and of realizing that I was actually living amongst all of these amazing places.

I embarked on my semester abroad to Bath, England not knowing if I had a place to live or if I could even get into the country, which is not something I would advise, and needless to say, I was pretty terrified and had absolutely no idea what I was doing. And when I finally made it to the University of Bath at the top of Bathwick Hill, and to the third floor of the last dorm in the furthest corner of campus, and squeezed my ridiculous amount of luggage into my ridiculous crevice of a room, I was even more confused, unsure and nervous, and I wondered why I had come all this way. But within a day I knew. Just as unpredictable as every other aspect of the study abroad journey, I had been placed in a corridor of British Freshers, which was the single greatest thing that happened to me, and from that day on I was surrounded by twenty jolly, quirky and absolutely hilarious Brits who wrapped me up in their world, teaching me their U.K. slang, introducing me to British food, taking me out the British way, and constantly taking the piss out of my American ways. I had come with the intention of throwing myself into something completely unfamiliar, facing the realm of infinite possibilities and making something out of my blank canvas, and when I look back I realize that I did exactly that. It may have been really challenging, and sometimes lonely and intimidating, but no time period in my life has ever been so exciting, so revealing, and so wonderful.

The city of Bath could possibly be the most beautiful city in England, with ancient Roman baths, gorgeous, regal buildings, posh shops, and winding cobblestone streets. Bath feels like the setting of an English fairytale, a city amidst Somerset’s glorious countryside, and the University was the perfect fit for me being a math major because I could easily take equivalent science courses for my major while still satisfying my interest in European culture and history. While in Europe I was also able to travel to Ireland, the Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland, Spain, Italy, France and Greece over the three-week Easter Holiday and the time I spent after classes had ended, which is sort of incredible for a twenty one year old.

After the countless cups of milky tea, the sleeves of Jaffa cakes, all the wild fancy dress parties and the pints of cider, I had embraced the laid back English way of life and England had become my home. Lying in the green grass in sunny Hyde Park on my last day in London in late June, I knew that I had to come back, that I had fallen in love with the cities, the countryside, the people and the lifestyle of England, and it had become such a huge part of my life in so little time. Above all, living in England for a semester revealed to me that I am capable of making any life for myself, no matter where my love for adventure will lead me, and I would encourage everyone to study abroad for the same reason.

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