A Message to Students Afraid to Study Abroad

Authored by:
Jilliann S.

Jilliann S.

Leaving the familiarity of your college town, packing all your belongings and traveling to a different country is an intimidating feeling. For me, I was ready to jump on the plane and embark on this new journey of my life, but for others it didn’t come that easily. I hope this article challenges you to shift your mindset on comfortability and interest in studying abroad.

We all have fears and it is okay to be afraid. It’s easy for us to become used to fitting into our routines and live each day in our bubble of comfort. We surround ourselves with the people and places that make us feel comfortable because society has associated the idea of being uncomfortable with negative feelings. Being uncomfortable is not the enemy. Being uncomfortable is not the problem. To grow, you need to be uncomfortable.

Here are a few things to keep in mind the next time you think about going abroad.

Just because you feel lonely does not mean you’re alone.

You will find yourself in a new place where you will most likely not know anybody. Just because you feel lonely does not mean you are truly alone. There are many people around you and people back home thinking about you. This is a unique opportunity to meet new people, even if they speak a different language. Use this time to dive into the culture of where you are and try and learn the language. Share your stories and ask to hear others. Loneliness and homesickness are both normal feelings and when you accept them and begin to overcome them is when you will begin feeling comfortable again.

You’re not lost. You’re finding a new path.

You will find yourself overwhelmed and in a new place. We all do. Being in a place that does not look familiar can be scary, but there are many tools to help find your way back. It may take time, and that is okay. Download a map of your city onto your phone before you leave WiFi or go old school and bring a paper copy. Never be afraid to ask for directions. This experience makes you stronger, increases your knowledge of the area and will help you become comfortable with being in new places.

Trying new things can open a world of possibilities.

We are constantly told this growing up, but I didn’t take it to heart until I left the United States. While studying abroad, you will be immersed in a new culture. This means new foods, styles, activities, music, languages, etc. In order to get the most of your experience you must try and accept the unfamiliar. You may not always end up liking everything, but there is a very great chance you find multiple things that you love. You will gain an appreciation for what you have back at home as well. It can be uncomfortable to try new things, but if you don’t try them, they will never become comfortable.  

You never really find yourself unless you allow yourself to live in the uncomfortable.

Studying Abroad gives you the wisdom and strength to develop necessary skills in personal and professional development. It’s a unique experience of uncomfortable events that bring a person’s true passions to the forefront. It is good to take risk, it is healthy to be uncomfortable.

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