Discovering Yourself Abroad and the Strength of Wanderlust
Get your Passport ready for stamping and study up your foreign languages because you’re ready to see this world.
By Moira Sim, Fordham University
I didn’t expect much to change when I went on a month-long study tour in London. I figured I would get to live in one of my favorite cities for a while, take an interesting film class, get some great pictures to put on Facebook, and meet new friends. I never could have seen the personal change I went through coming in a thousand miles over the Atlantic. Here are the top three things I learned from my time abroad, and these things will happen for you too- just wait till you step off the plane.
1. You actually can survive on your own.
Even though we’re fairly independent in college, most of us are only a few hours away from the safety of family. Even if this isn’t the case, they’re always a phone call away. When you’re abroad you can’t hop on a plane home if you get sick or even call that often just to talk, if you have a limit on your phone. You’ll have to figure things out for yourself. I learned how independent I had become when my laundry accidentally locked on hot, which made my red shorts bleed onto almost all my clothes. On top of that, it was early in the morning, so with the time difference I couldn’t call home to see how my Mom would fix this catastrophe. Figuring out how to fix that was a challenge, and I ended up needing to throw most of my clothes out, but I lived!
You also may not be traveling with your best friend or even an acquaintance, like I did. I hopped on a 747 by myself across the ocean and met my group at Heathrow. I was one of the first flights in so I sat in the Arrivals gate alone until finally another girl showed up soon after. And you know what? She ended up being one of my best friends over there. This just shows you how things can fall into place and I finally learned not to fear the unknown. You can’t worry about things until they happen, so just relax and take in the view…
2. The world is a much bigger place than you thought.
If you’ve read some of my other posts, I’ve mentioned that I’m from a super small town in Pennsylvania. And shocker, diversity isn’t the first word that comes to mind to describe the population. So the idea of living in a city where people from all over flock to appeals to me. This is partly why I chose to go to school in New York and London. Living in cities like this, you can simply walk down one block and encounter the most diverse kinds of people. One specific time I remember was walking near the Sorbonne in Paris and passed a group of French students, tourists from every country imaginable, and finally, a pack of chanting Hare Krishnas. You can’t get much more diverse than that. I remember feeling so excited to pass one more person, just to see what people from this nationality were wearing, or trying to catch a bit of the French students’ conversation. Studying abroad makes you curious, and that won’t fade when you return to the States.
3. You want to discover even more.
Along the lines of finding out the grandiosity of our world, you’re going to want to see the rest of it. Once I realized how different London was from New York and especially PA, (and we share a language!) and immediately wanted to see more and more. I now have an overflowing bucket list and a ridiculous amount of Pinterest pins for my next trips abroad. The two preceding things I learned about myself when I was studying abroad reassured me that I could travel to these places even on my own if I wanted to. Wanderlust is a feeling stronger than doubt, stronger than anxiety. Once you realize that you can’t leave this Earth without seeing everything it has to offer, you’re done for. Get your Passport ready for stamping and study up your foreign languages because you’re ready to see this world.