Part 1: Pre-Departure Nerves

Authored by:
Jessica C.

Jessica C.

I never intended to move out of New York state for college. Actually, I never planned on moving off of Long Island at all. When I was younger, I had such intense anxiety that prevented me from even sleeping over my friends houses’ when they lived in the same town as me. 

So when the spring semester of my junior year of high school rolled around and it was time to begin creating a college list, it took the influence of many friends to add schools that were located more than an acceptable commuter-student distance. 

I applied everywhere as a nursing major and was accepted into every program except the one school I dreamt myself at. 

I ultimately decided to change my major to Health Sciences to attend Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, Connecticut- two hours away with no traffic. 

Up until January 2022, I could easily say that August 2020, freshman move-in day, was the most overwhelming and emotional of my then 18 years of life. So overdramatic, I know. 

My point of telling this story is that if you would have told that very scared, new college freshman on that day that she would move to Europe in a year and a half, without knowing anyone, she would laugh in your face.

I give credit to the “Kara and Nate” youtube channel. They make videos about their travels around the world as they have a goal of reaching 100 countries. I was obsessed. From videos like “Our Norwegian Tiny Home Treehouse” and “Diving in the Red Sea”, their content sparked my desire to go out and explore what outside of the United States has to offer. 

I can’t quite pinpoint the exact moment the idea of studying abroad formed. A lot of people go into college knowing it’s something they are going to do one semester but it wasn’t something I even considered until the end of spring semester freshmen year. 

But where would I go?

Denmark was always my number one choice. Not Copenhagen, specifically, just somewhere in Denmark. 

In 2019, I visited the Netherlands and fell in love with Amsterdam. That trip was my only exposure to Europe and I adored the cultural differences the country had. From biking to canals, I knew I wanted to study in a place that had the same atmosphere. 

Hence, Copenhagen, Denmark.

No one from my school has ever studied in Copenhagen so I was a bit hesitant. The more research I did on CIEE and Denmark, the more convinced I became that it was the perfect match. The summer of 2021 was spent doing danish duolingo for at least an hour every day, watching the Euro futbol matches and rooting exclusively for Denmark, and telling everyone that I was moving abroad.

I wasn’t even accepted yet.

To say I was getting ahead of myself is an understatement. 

The fall semester started and I went through the application process- my excitement growing more and more as the months went on. I was accepted at the end of October and, for the first time, I had my doubts. What? How? Why?

I know, it felt weird as I was so excited throughout the semester prior and the entire summer. So why did I all of a sudden get a feeling of dread that never went away?

I think I loved the idea of moving to Europe but then the realization that I was going made me have anxiety that I had never felt before. 

From October-early January, the pre-departure nerves never went away. I had moments where I would be super excited but that would quickly be clouded by a wave of self guilt. I somehow convinced myself that I was wrong for moving abroad for so long when my family and friends were nothing but incredibly supportive and excited for my travels. 

When I was packing up my apartment after finals in the fall, I purposely left stuff behind because a part of me was convinced that I would pull my application before departure. 

My flight to Copenhagen was January 2nd and I wasn’t fully packed until that morning. Even as I drove to Newark Airport, I was still convinced that it wasn’t happening. 

But, alas, I got on the plane and flew seven hours overseas. 

Little did I know, moving abroad would be the best decision I have ever made. 

The moral of part one is to say that if you are thinking about moving abroad, already made the decision and are nervous about it, or you’re getting on your abroad flight tomorrow, it will be okay. It is scary- terrifying, in fact- to step this far out of your comfort zone. But just know, you will be fine. 

It will be hard. It will be incredibly lonely in the beginning. But you are about to go on an adventure that is unlike anything you have ever done before. 

I’m not too sure how many parts this little blog-series will be but I'm excited to share my experiences and stories. I was in Copenhagen for all three blocks so it’s safe to say I’ve gained quite a bit of knowledge on the city.

Thank you to CIEE for giving students a platform to share their love for travel. Happy reading! :)


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