Dear Prospective London Study Abroad Students,
Right now, you are at a precipice. You are faced with a decision that could quite literally change your entire life, in terms of both perspective and trajectory, and yet a majority of the thoughts in your head are concerned with all the imperfect details about this program. Perhaps you envisioned yourself living with an Italian family for at least six months while you learned Italian and maybe took a couple additional courses for your major, or maybe you romanticized about the adventurous rendezvous you would frequent in the duration of your study abroad in Australia. Or maybe you dedicated a fair amount of time toying with the possibility of upping yourself from the compelling shores of Santa Barbara but ultimately rationalized that your goals of graduating in three/four years, completing your major requirements, and maintaining the relationships you have built, or begun to build, heavily weighed the scale against the opportunity. Whether or not these postulations sound familiar to you, I implore you to take a moment to truly comprehend and appreciate the tremendous privilege you have the opportunity to take advantage of.
Last March, the exact thoughts I previously mentioned were gaining destructive momentum and threatened to negatively influence my decision to commit to the London program. Although I experienced waves of euphoria at the thought of the prospect of going abroad, it didn’t take long for me to build justifications as to why the program wasn’t for me. As the excuses mounted and the waves of spontaneity ebbed, I suddenly began to see how intensely negative my mindset had become. I brought myself back to reality as I pondered when I would ever have the time and resources to embark on such an educational, culturally significant, and adventure-laced program already neatly packaged and waiting to be unwrapped. I realized that whenever you face a decision that evokes feelings of fear, it‘s a sign that the right decision is usually the hardest one to make. If it the right choices were easy, everyone would be making them.
Yet the right choices aren’t easy, and that is why it is crucial to quiet the persistent but gradually dominant voice in your head that is telling you that there is no way you can afford the trip and instead build up your defense of why you unequivocally ought to go. Yes it is a substantial amount of money, yes the trip does not occur over an entire quarter or semester, but there are growing resources and grants available for financial aid and if money is the primary concern fueling the growing reasons why you shouldn’t be a part of this journey, it’s time to just let it go. If you’re inwardly scoffing and thinking, “yeah, easy for her to say”, trust me-I had to do it! But once I let go of everything holding me back, the path opened up for me to attend the meetings, make the deadlines, and invest in my decision to pack up and leave Santa Barbara to live in central London for a month.
By far, one of the best, albeit one of the most difficult, decisions I have made. Not only did I reap the once in a lifetime benefits of living in a flat in central London, I was exponentially blessed with two of the most inspiring, compassionate, and driven professors I have ever had the privilege of working with. This program allows you to earn eight units in the span of four weeks; with so many initially hidden incentives it would take me pages to list all of them. However, the opportunity to take courses collectively with a group of students that you are living with in another country, collaborate with professors who open their abounding resources and dedicate enormous amounts of time to ensure your success, and continuous prospects for weekend traveling endeavors are all worth mentioning. The material you will be reading, discussing, and writing about is brought to life when you walk out of your classroom into the global city of London that’s teeming with history, progressive politics, and tangible examples of the courses you will be completing. If the thought of completing a ten-week course in four weeks is contributing to your apprehension, let me assure you that these courses are incomparable to any courses you have taken before due to your instant immersion into London and the truly compelling material.
While there is nothing I would like more than to continue this letter with vivid descriptions of my voyages throughout London and the awesome weekend trips I took to Ireland, Scotland and Wales, I am aware that your time (potentially synonymous with your attention span), is limited so I will conclude with a few summations. It is up to you to either dismiss this letter’s ability to quell your fears, or allow it to be the little push you need to fully commit to a program designed to equip you with the tools you need to gain a new perspective and a new appreciation of your life. The people you will meet, the memories you will share, and unique life lessons you will learn along the way are things no one can ever take from you. They will add authenticity to your response to U.S. foreign politics and overall analysis of our governmental structure, prompt deeper thinking when you further your knowledge through other courses at UCSB, and provoke you to continue your travels and explorations of the welcoming world around you. I urge you to hastily seize this chance to grow as an individual, as a student, and as a potential leader of our generation; remember, face your fears and your fears will go away.
P.S. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions, would like to hear more about how I succeeded in coursework while still allotting time for travels, or simply would like to talk. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org