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Traveling thousands of miles to London to learn about the UK’s national health system and developing a newfound respect for their public health efforts, history, and government, I never would have concluded that London might just be a city that I consider living in in the future. From visiting the Broad Street Pump where all of John Snow’s efforts in tracing the cholera outbreak became significant to exploring the inside of Parliament where important history took place and is still being made.
Being an Albanian immigrant and first-generation student, studying abroad came with its worries for many reasons. The intersectionality of my identities made me anxious to travel and study in a foreign place on my own, because my family members have had no experience with it and so I, as a result, was unfamiliar with the process and even the importance of it. When I got my acceptance to my GCC program, I was overwhelmed with excitement because I was ready to experience something unfamiliar on my own.
To my surprise, I learned that many Albanians actually live in London and soon after that, I started running into them and becoming friends with people of my culture in an entire different country. My immigrant status also allowed for me to focus on the lives of other immigrants in London and confidently ask questions and do research on any challenges or disparities that they may face. Turns out, immigrants in the UK and USA face quite similar difficulties, partly because of their language barrier and partly because of how they are perceived in society. Overall, while my identities caused me to stress out about the opportunity of studying abroad, they also allowed for me to find something familiar in an unfamiliar place.