An update from Laura – Laura is a sophomore majoring in journalism who participated in SMU-in-London this summer.

Deliriously wandering off the airplane at London’s Gatwick airport on the day of my arrival to the SMU in London program, I boarded a bus with the rest of the kids in the program. Knowing some of the girls as sorority acquaintances, I had only been formally introduced to a handful of girls. For the most part, I didn’t know anyone on the trip and certainly did not feel at total ease or comfort with any other students. I suppose learning to acclimate myself to challenging social situations and learning to be more open minded about people are the two most valuable things that I’ve taken out of these five weeks.

To be honest, I did a study abroad semester in high school and have lived in London for the past six summers so I felt like those two experiences really enlightened me to the traditional “things to be learned” from an abroad program: learning a language, learning about another culture, gaining a sense of independence, and learning about new transportation systems. This trip really held no culture shocks per se. On the other hand, having to be comfortable with people who I had already established as merely casual, distant friends was the most difficult thing to overcome. I now can honestly say I have done what I would never have imagined possible: converted a few social friends to true, lifelong friends that I will continue to hold near to me even upon returning to Dallas at the end of this program.