There comes a point in every college students’ life to decide whether or not to spend an entire semester studying in a completely new country. The majority of college juniors choose to take this leap of faith, find a program fitting to their majors, pack several bags, enroll in a couple of intro language courses, and reside on a different continent for at least four months.
I am sure you all know at least one person who has been abroad; in fact I bet they won’t let you forget it. This person probably says many times that they had the time of their life and would trade anything to go back and wish they were their right now, etc. Yes I am sure you have seen slideshows of the beautiful architecture, the incredibly attractive civilians, the delicious yet fatting cuisine, and the unlimited supply of alcoholic beverages provided because the drinking age starts around ten years old.
But no one ever tells you about the pre-departure stage. The feeling of uncertainty and doubt that is pushed back into the depths of the mind but slowly creeps back up as the departure date quickly approaches. It’s almost identical to the feeling one gets when forced to sit on a rollercoaster when deathly afraid. Or the sensation you feel the day before moving into the freshman dormitory at a college hours away from home. Your brain kicks into overdrive and the questions and uncertainties pertaining to the unknown cloud your mind: Will I make friends? Am I going to be known as the dumb American? Will I gain weight? Can I do this?
The reason I can be so specific and in depth about this particular subject is because I am currently at the end of the torturous process known as the Pre-Abroad Jitters. In a few days, I depart to a completely different country without a single companion to attend a fantastic and very selective program for my major. My skeptical side has kicked in and because I am not there yet and really don’t know anyone, I am beyond terrified. I have been distracting myself with errands and fitness but there is only so much I can do before that fateful night where I lay tossing and turning in my bed thinking solely about the petrifying reality that my prolonged journey to an unknown place has arrived.
So my advice, to myself and to all those in the same boat, is to close your eyes and just do it. There is a reason why everyone goes abroad. Change is good and this experience is a once in a lifetime opportunity. Think about it, how many thirty year olds just casually go to Europe for four months? This is something that must be done at this time in our lives. Yes it’s very scary but it will be unbelievably amazing and I am sure in a week this feeling of uncertainty will be completely forgotten. So to everyone who is contemplating going abroad and fearing the actual departure know this, you are not the only one feeling this way and it will be worth it!
Take the risk and enjoy the moment. Most importantly don’t forget your camera!
What do you think?
Have you ever been abroad? Where did you study? How did you cope with pre-trip anxiety? Share your story with us in the comments section below.
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