Studying in the UK vs the US – What’s Different?

While I now work full-time here in London, I originally moved here as a student to complete my Master’s in Media and Communication at the London School of Economics. I explain my decision more in this post, and while I was terrified AF, it ended up being one of the best decisions of my life.

Arriving in London, I thought I was fairly well-prepared and had done as much research as possible, but I ended up reasonably clueless when it came to studying in the UK. For the most part, schooling isn’t wildly different than the US – you attend class, study and read outside, then write papers and take exams. However, there were a few key differences I wanted to cover in a video that would have been helpful to know before I moved my entire life across an ocean to a foreign country. So check it out, and let me know if you have any questions!

Gingham Top:

I’m hoping to do another post on why you absolutely should get a degree abroad ( EXPAT LYYYFFEE FOREVER) and more of the logistics on how I moved to the UK, but in the meantime I hope this is helpful if you’re planning to study in this lovely country.

Studying in the UK vs the US - What's Different?

My Biggest Fears About Moving Abroad

From my heavily curated and filtered Instagram, it may seem like my life living abroad in London is pure fantasy. Traipsing about pastel houses in Notting Hill, cupcakes for breakfast in Belgravia, or brunch high in the London skyline, while all very photogenic, are not the entire picture. For example, I’m currently laying in bed with pinkeye (hello, Quasimodo), watching obscene amounts of How to Get Away with Murder, and nursing my ego over a few job application rejections. Not quite so Kate Middleton glamorous.

Keeping it Real: My Biggest Fears About Moving Abroad

I just want to keep it real like JLO and make it clear that life living abroad isn’t all jetsetting and the social media-worthy fabulous lifestyle. Same goes with deciding to make the move. Don’t get me wrong, my life in London overall is a dream come true (you can read more about why I decided to move abroad here), but that doesn’t mean I impulsively decided to move here with absolutely no hesitations. To be honest, I was scared shitless.

Some of these fears may seem silly, and some are quite serious and petrifying, but they are all real. I thought I’d share them with you as well as how they’ve faded or evolved since actually moving abroad. If you’re considering a move to London or another country, I’d highly recommend it. Just know, it’s totally sane to be a bit terrified. You aren’t alone.

Will I be crippled with homesickness?
Confession. I’m a bit of a homebody. Kind of embarrassing for a 26 year old, but I just really love my family and being at home with them. Maybe a little too much for my own good. While this close bond is great, I was worried I’d constantly feel the pull of the States and my family tugging at my heart. I do miss them every day, but luckily London and my life here has kept me occupied enough to prevent me from diving too far down a homesickness rabbit hole. It sounds simple, but by getting busy and creating a life in your new home, you’re less likely to let your mind wander to a darker, sad place.

Does it look like I’m avoiding responsibility?
Back to the being 26 thing again. While I know I’m still very young, quite a few of my friends seem a bit ahead of me in the rat race. They’re getting married, climbing the corporate ladder, buying houses, getting pregnant (YIKES), all in all just being better at this adulting thing than me. Yes, sometimes I do feel a little old to be back in school. Living in a student residence with 18 year olds vomiting in the elevator will do that to you. I am, however, glad I went to grad school after working for a few years. This is going to sound bleak, but you honestly appreciate it much more when you realize that the slog of working day in and day out is literally for the next 50 years.  If I went to grad school right after undergrad, I don’t think I would have appreciated this break from “real life” as much as I do now.

Will there be a terrorist attack?
Well, that escalated quickly. The year I was deciding to attend grad school in Europe, the attacks in Paris, Nice, Istanbul and Brussels happened. Europe seemed to be aflame with terrorism. But, attacks in Orlando and San Bernandino also happened that same year. Frankly and very sadly, in open society, terrorism can happen anywhere – whether it’s the Louvre, a Christmas market or a shopping mall. Have I thought twice about travelling to France since moving here? Sadly, yes. However, I feel very safe in London, and if God forbid, something happened here, it is a large enough city where hopefully the odds would be in my favor to not be in the exact attack location (that was a very depressing sentence to write). Terrorism is a very real and too frequent occurrence in our world, and I’ve decided to not let it dictate my ambitions. Life is too short, and I refuse to make decisions out of fear.

Will I be the fat American?
This may seem silly, but everyone in Europe seems so goddamn chic and skinny. Maybe it’s the cigarettes, smaller portions, or walking everywhere, but the stereotypes of thin Europeans versus overindulgent, heavier Americans sadly seems true. Yes, there are fat people in England, but they seem certainly far less common in London than in Midwestern America. I was terrified of being the fattest person in London and desperately attempted and failed to lose weight before moving. Honestly, it kind of sucked when I first got here. I was out of shape and out of breath from walking a few miles to and from school each day. I felt huge compared to the infinitely more stylish and effortlessly cool European girls. And I sure as hell didn’t fit into those dope high-waisted mom jeans at Zara. However, slowly I’ve lost weight. I walk over 10,000 steps most days here and the smaller portion sizes have been a godsend. Most of all, my next meal isn’t the only thing I look forward to every day. There is so much to experience in London beyond eating out and getting satisfaction from food, and I’ve been much healthier phsyically and mentally for it. I may have arrived the fat American, but I won’t leave that way.

How will I make any friends?
Real talk: making friends as an adult is hard. What if my coworkers are all 40 and older? Do I awkwardly dance up to groups of young adults at happy hour? Does anyone normal actually use Bumble BFF? When I moved to LA right after undergrad, I struggled to meet people. At one point, I’d even window shop at Forever 21 just to have human interaction with the salespeople. #foreveralone. I did eventually make friends in LA, but it was damn difficult. Moving to London and meeting people has been much easier. Part of this has been due to putting myself out there more, but this ease has primarily come from attending school. Moving somewhere for school is honestly the best way to make friends. You’ll be in a target-rich environment of young people who are also usually in an entirely new city and desperate for a social life. You can be that social life! If you’re interested in moving halfway around the world, definitely explore grad school as an option.

What if I love it and can’t stay?
Remember those job application rejections I mentioned above? My fear of loving London and being forced to leave it has only strengthened since moving here. I LOVE it here. I feel alive in this city and truly like I’ll never get tired of it. Unfortunately, the climate toward immigration isn’t so hot here right now (is it anywhere?), so finding a job that will sponsor my work visa has been quite the exercise in discipline and determination. Only time will tell if I can find a job that will allow me to stay here, so I’m trying to force myself to make the most of it while I can. That means as soon as my deformed eye is healed, it’s back to soaking up every inch of this dazzling city.

Are you considering moving abroad or have you? What did you fear or what’s holding you back?

Linking Up With:

Wanderful Wednesday hosted by Lauren of Lauren on Location, Van of Snow in Tromso, Isabel of The Sunny Side of This and Marcella of What a Wonderful World. Click on the button below to check out more great travel content!

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Moving to London! What I WISH I Knew Before I Moved

Hello friends! After moving and finally getting my life in London (somewhat) together, I’m back with another video! My move had a few mishaps (the hour long schlep to Ikea that never should have happened), so I thought I’d share what I wish I’d known before I moved to London. If you’re interested in moving here, studying abroad here or just visiting, learn from my mistakes and check it out!


Linking Up With:

Wanderful Wednesday hosted by Lauren of Lauren on Location, Van of Snow in Tromso, Isabel of The Sunny Side of This and Marcella of What a Wonderful World. Click on the button below to check out more great travel content!

Wanderful Wednesday


Thanks for stopping by and be sure to subscribe if you want to keep up with all my videos. I’m off to finish my reading for class tomorrow – it never seems to end, and I’m still figuring out this whole “student” thing again. Why can’t I just YouTube for class? Perchance to dream!

Moving to London! The 10 American Items I’m Packing

Two big life events to share: I move to London TOMORROW (cue freaked out emojis), and today I’m sharing my first YouTube video! Obviously, the first video is about the move and it has been a labor of love to create. The technology is still very new to me but very fun to learn, so I appreciate any feedback you have.

While I was planning my move, I noticed a lot of American expats online that made the move ended up annoyed/bereaved when they discovered certain US items weren’t available in England. I thought I’d share the 10 American items I’m packing, so if you ever make the move or study abroad, you can be prepared and won’t be left wanting for the essentials, like a Reeses peanut butter cup.

The 10 American Items You Should Pack on a Move AbroadFrame // Passport Case
Foundation // Planner // Measuring Cups
Check out the full list of items you should pack in my video below!

If you’re not from the US, definitely research if your favorite products/foods will be available in your new country. They will make you feel more at home when that dreaded homesickness strikes 🙂

You can watch the video below – excuse my awkward personality! I’ll be documenting my move and life abroad and uploading regularly, so definitely subscribe if you’re interested in following along!


Linking Up With:

Wanderful Wednesday hosted by Lauren of Lauren on Location, Van of Snow in Tromso, Isabel of The Sunny Side of This and Marcella of What a Wonderful World. Click on the button below to check out more great travel content!

Wanderful Wednesday

The 6 Emotional Stages of Packing for a Move Abroad

While I write this post about packing for a move abroad, I really should be packing for my move abroad. I’ll write up lists all day, pin packing guides like a madwoman and lay out my clothes beautifully, but when it comes to the actual act of packing – I’ll put that off as long as I can. It’s currently Tuesday, however, and I move on Thursday, so unfortunately it’s time to face the music.

The 6 Emotional Stages of Packing for a Move Abroad; perfect for moving abroad or study abroadpassport case // vegan leather tote bag

Since I’ve moved to Arizona for college, LA for work, then back to St. Louis, you’d think I’d be a pro at preparing for a major move, but you would be thinking too highly of me. There is also just something much more decisive about an international transition that makes it that much more intimidating. I can’t just ship a couple pairs of jeans and that hairbrush I forgot to pack – that’ll set you pack several hundred dollars. My parents can’t just bring my forgotten photo frames when they visit me over a long weekend – I won’t be home until Christmas.

No, this move just feels bigger all around (I’m probably also being over-dramatic and procrastinating), so I thought I’d share the many emotional stages you’ll go through when stowing away your life for a move abroad, in case you’re ever faced with such a traumatic packing event.

Stage 1: This Will Be A Leisurely Affair
A week ago was such a happier, idyllic time. I was young, naive, and a whole expanse of packing days seemed to lay out before me. Instead of packing ahead of time, I’d take leisurely lunches, order a few more things to pack (because why not just add two five more things?) spend whole afternoons planning my future wedding on Pinterest and waste away the evenings out with friends (although I definitely think you should do this before you move anywhere). My packing contributions included making lists of what to pack and buying more things to pack.

Stage 2: Pack All the Things!
After a few days, the reality of moving abroad set in and I decided to make up for lost time and pack ALL THE THINGS. I laid out literally every piece of clothing I thought I could or would wear in London. Since I’m packing for the autumnal and winter months, and London is no LA, a lot of these items are bulkier sweaters, coats and vests – because who doesn’t go to London without a little faux fur – so while I made some progress, I knew not everything would fit in my two checked bags and one carry-on bag budget. I also didn’t really pack anything, but instead laid it out in our guest bedroom – so this stage doesn’t really count as “packing.”

How I Packed for a Move Abroad without Going InsaneThe carnage in my parents’ guest room.

Stage 3: Surely I’ll Wear/Fit Into This Jacket I Haven’t Worn in Two Years!
To help thin out my massive piles of clothing, I decided to set some ground rules. If I hadn’t worn it in one year, it’s not coming. If it doesn’t fit me right now, it’s not coming. These rules sound sane, but packing for a move abroad does strange things to a person. I envisioned myself losing a ton of weight from walking and becoming a model-esque European, and while losing weight may happen, I can force myself to wait until it actually does and grab my thin clothes when I’m home from Christmas. Pack what you actually wear and what will make you comfortable – not for a body or fashion sense you predict may develop.

Stage 4: Purge All the Things!
While I started culling through my stacks and eliminating items, I was tempted to go a bit overboard. Envisioning a minimalist wardrobe, I wanted suddenly to sell all my clothes and rid myself of the dreaded packing problem all together. I’ve given into this temptation during past moves and always regret under-packing. A little bit of a diva, I like options when it comes to clothing and being prepared for unexpected situations. While I did sell things I haven’t worn in over a year and am not packing all my summer clothing, I still am going to throw in one swimsuit for any spontaneous holidays that pop up. It’s all about balance.
I’ll be sharing more specifics in future posts about what I end up bringing for this move, but check out my favorite packing tools below:

Stage 5: Denial
This stage is the worst for progress, but seems to be my favorite to dwell in, even if not on purpose. My moving date encroaches quicker and quicker, but it just doesn’t feel real. I suppose I haven’t had enough time off yet, but sometimes I feel as if I’m on a little work holiday and could be heading back into the office any day now. I know it will feel VERY real when I’m getting ready to head to the airport, but for now I’m in this odd purgatory  where I know I’m making the move, but my mind hasn’t fully accepted the reality – and the packing work that comes along with it.

Stage 6: Acceptance
Currently I’m hovering somewhere between denial and acceptance. I had to say goodbye to one of my best friends today, and that realization felt like a bucket of cold water waking me from a dream. Suddenly, I feel the pressure of the move and being ready in two days. I’m still not in total freak-out mode, but I think I’m finally disciplined enough to buckle down and get shit done. One of my larger suitcases is packed after some hustling, and while the task is nowhere near finished, at least there is some progress.

Have you guys ever packed for a big move before? Any tips? Luckily, I don’t have to bring furniture or anything, but I always accumulate more clothes than necessary. You can follow my packing and prep adventures more on Snapchat and Instagram Stories.

The 6 Emotional Stages of Packing for a Move Abroad; definitely save if you're moving or studying abroad