Appreciate Study Abroad for the Whole Experience
How to Find Purpose in the Ups and the Downs
Traveling abroad is so trendy right now, and for good reason. The opportunity to experience another country’s culture, language, and food is unforgettable and well worth seeking out. But it’s so easy to get caught up in the image of it all. No one ever talks about the bad moments or the things that don’t go to plan. Traveling is not always picture perfect, but that is absolutely okay and here’s why…
We all have these great expectations for what our time overseas will be like, the cool pictures we will be able to take, and the the life changing moments we will encounter. But anyone who has been away from home, for even a week, knows that things can get messy. What if you miss your flight? What if your bag gets stolen? What if things honestly just do not live up to what you thought they would be? It is in these moments, when our character is tested, and we have every right to get upset, that we could also choose to have a different point of view. And it is in these moments that the real life changing happens.
Ever notice how the best times are never planned? Itineraries do not always have the ability to predict things that may come your way, but rather than letting it ruin your day, notice all the amazing things that never would have happened if your plan had been perfectly carried through. We see a good example of this everyday when we look at the trees. Think about how they move with the wind. If they did not bend and flow with the air currents, as soon as a strong gust came along they would snap in two. Rigidity can be a fatal flaw. So even when something seemingly negative encounters you on your trip, focus on all the positive things that it produced.
As far as negative encounters go, on my recent study abroad trip, things that happened that I never expected. I experienced homesickness for the first time, I had some less-than-great interactions with locals, and I got sick. In these times I was really challenged as an individual to figure out how to deal with the new situations set before me. But so much of the growth that I went through during my time abroad was due to trials like these.
Something important to keep in mind is that it is not all about the end goal. It is easy to focus on where you are going and forget where you are. During your travels be sure to take time to appreciate the small things, or you will never truly be able to appreciate the big ones. The best advice I have ever heard when it comes to traveling is to understand that the trip is not yours to begin with. You must let go of all your expectations and let the place you go and the people who live there light the way. Live in your present moment, so that you may not miss what it’s really about.
If your experience with study abroad was completely perfect, it would not be a full experience. It would be boring. So embrace the good and bad times, because it is together that they form your unique adventure. There is nothing fun about a roller coaster that has a flat track. So when things start heading down hill, throw your hands up in surrender, scream if you have to, but enjoy the ride. This is your time to learn and grow and embark on a journey of a lifetime!