On “Finding Yourself” in India

Authored By:

Allie S.

I want to dispel one major myth about studying abroad: no matter what anyone has claimed, you will not “find yourself” when you travel. If Pinterest bloggers and Eat, Pray, Love were to be believed, giving into wanderlust is the only way to truly discover who you are and live comfortably for the rest of your life. I understand where the idea comes from. Even in the short month that I have been in Hyderabad, I have noticed some personal growth. But I think it’s important to note the difference between personal growth and the cliched phrase “finding yourself”.

First of all, if you feel like you have lost your sense of self, you might want to wait to study abroad. When you are in another country, everything is an adjustment. Everyday I come across new foods, new philosophies, new activities, etc. It’s amazing and exciting, but it certainly isn’t familiar. In fact, some days can be outright exhausting. I don’t feel the most “me” when I hop on a crowded bus to get across town or haggle down prices at a day market—I feel stretched. Rather than finding myself, I have found that I can be unlike myself and still have a great time. This, in my view, is the real reason one should consider studying abroad.

When you leave home for another country, you should expect discomfort rather than ease, confusion rather than enlightenment, and surprise rather than indifference. You should also expect that to be a really, really, really good thing. Not every positive experience feels like a natural fit and studying abroad is a perfect example of that.