Hello Study Abroad!
It’s time to leave your college and home life for a little to start the most amazing journey of your life.
By: Victoria Saperstein, Marist College
This article is for anyone leaving to study abroad for the spring semester. I know that you’re nervous and aren’t ready to leave the comfort of home just yet because I was there. I was in your shoes and I’m most likely just one more person telling you “You’re going to have amazing time” and “Trust me, you will love it there!” When people told me this, I was excited but my anxiety took over at times. I knew it was going to be an amazing experience but it was hard leaving the comfort of my school and home life. I was comfortable at my school and didn’t want to leave my friends behind. When I was packing my room up, I was hit with sadness and the countdown to London was incredibly exciting but also incredibly scary. I was scared that I was going miss out on something on campus. I was scared of the unknown. Was I going to be homesick? Will I lose contact with my friends and family? As one of my favorite quotes goes: “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.” The best piece of advice I can give you and I don’t mean to sound like a Nike commercial is to just do it and push through the anxiety because all of it will be worth it. I will bet you right now that in April when you’re getting ready to come back to America, you will be wishing for this time back.
I will use my experiences to help you push forward and relieve any anxiety. By the end, I hope you realize how amazing this opportunity is for you and how exciting this next semester will be.
I made an effort to reach out to the people I cared about before I left. It was weird and emotional leaving campus and knowing that I wouldn’t be coming back for the next semester. I left on the 2nd of January so it was the holidays and then hello London! The morning I was leaving, I couldn’t really eat and I was dealing with so many emotions. I was happy but sad, excited but anxious and I still couldn’t wrap my head around the fact that I was going to London. It was a dream of mine since I was a little girl and it was finally happening. Leaving my family at the airport security was hard but once I visited Big Ben for the first time, I became so excited. There were only few times when I missed home because I was very excited to be living in London and I knew I would regret not appreciating every moment I had there. Being homesick is normal and can happen to you but just remember that home will always be there. Don’t let your homesickness get in the way of fully enjoying your time abroad.
One of my biggest worries was losing touch with my friends and family. Of course communicating is a little more difficult abroad but it’s not impossible. There are so many apps available for smartphones that make communicating easy. My favorite was Viber, where you can take calls and text people who have it downloaded for free. All you need is wifi so those signs “We have wifi!” on restaurant doors are very exciting. I also bought a cell phone that I used when I was traveling outside a wifi area for emergencies and to call my friends if we got separated from exploring the city. In addition to Viber and an international cell phone, social media in general is highly used and it is easy to see what everyone is doing. There’s Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to keep you up to date with what is happening on campus and to let your friends know what you’re up too. In a weird way, you become closer with your friends because it opens your eyes up to who really cares and who is putting in an effort. It also opens up your eyes because on a busy day, you will realize who you want to call or text. Just receiving a little care package in the mail or even a wall post on Facebook becomes important. All in all, your true friends will reach out to you and make an effort. Just remember to do the same back. It’s worth it to take some time out of each day to communicate and catch up with the people you love.
So everyone is hit with FOMO (acronym for Fear of Missing Out) time to time. I get it, everyone is moving into their dorms and going out together. They are going to sporting events and attending events on campus. This relates back to keeping in contact. With a check of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, it does not take much to get hit with some FOMO. Just remember that you’re living in another country and traveling so sure, it sucks to see all your friends going to a party together but there will be plenty more parties when you get back. Studying abroad is a once in a lifetime opportunity so enjoy your time without worrying about what is going on back on campus.
It’s time to leave your college and home life for a little to start the most amazing journey of your life. Don’t worry, everything and everyone will be there when you get home. Right now, it’s time for you to study abroad. It’s time for you to explore and travel. It’s time for you to grow into your own person and gain independence. It’s time to gain the confidence you always wanted. Dive into a new culture and be open to the differences. Try something new and don’t hold back. When I went abroad, I expected to meet new people and travel, which I did but it goes beyond that. Without even noticing, you are learning a tremendous amount on the different cultures you are stepping into but also about yourself. Now go out there, just do it and let me know how it goes!