Congratulations everybody, we’ve made it to 2016! It’s time to hit the gym, stop shopping so much, and be a better all around person, right? Or at least that’s what I’m planning…. TBD how that goes…
With this new year also comes probably the biggest adventure in my life thus far: Studying Abroad.
Those are two words that seem quite simple, but have far bigger implications than they let on. What does it really mean to study abroad? Well here’s what I’ve observed prior to me leaving:
THERE ARE TWO CAMPS OF HOW PEOPLE RESPOND
“YOU’RE GOING TO HAVE THE TIME OF YOUR LIFE”: These are the people that give you that HOO-RAH that you need. They’ve most likely studied abroad before or lived in different countries. They will give you, and I’m just estimating, about a million tips, tidbits, and outdated information that keep you calm, excited, and your energy thriving.
“Oh…. You’re not nervous?”: This is 100% of your family. Especially grandparents. To these people I say: WELL DUH I’M NERVOUS. I’M LIVING ACROSS A LARGE BODY OF WATER FOR MANY MONTHS BY MYSELF. But I’m also not nervous. I’m ecstatic. Studying abroad is a once in a life time opportunity, so I’m going to take it and run with it.
PEOPLE ACT LIKE YOU’RE GOING TO STOP EXISTING ONCE YOU LEAVE
No, this is not “bye forever”. This is “please install WhatsApp and Viber”. Simple, easy. You will not cease to exist, contrary to your friends’ popular beliefs.
THE STUDY ABROAD PROGRAM YOU’RE IN IS A LOT MORE COMPLICATED THAN GOING TO COLLEGE
Between scheduling courses, finding somewhere to live, and simply trying to afford studying abroad, there are lots of things on your mind. If I’ve learned anything so far in this process, it’s that you have to be on top of your email, reach out to other people who have completed the program you’re looking at, and be okay with waiting for information. Patience is a virtue when it comes to working with study abroad program offices, and it will all be figured out in the end.
LISTS ARE MY NEW BEST FRIEND
Packing lists, shopping lists, to-do lists… The list of lists goes on and on. As tedious and overwhelming as they may seem, these have been a life saver. I can write down the due dates, organize tasks into categories, and have a visual representation of what needs to be done- And so I don’t forget anything! I can promise you, nothing feels better than checking something off a list.
FOMO IS NOT AN EXCUSE FOR NOT STUDYING ABROAD
I love my school. Excessively. I was an Orientation Coordinator, am on the Senior Week Committee, sing in a choir, and also am in an a cappella group. My life is my friends, my education, and my extracurriculars. Studying abroad had always been on my college “to-do list” (see? Lists!), but as it came closer and closer to actually having to commit, a part of me grew more and more skeptical. Did the benefits really outweigh the comforts? Well, honestly, I don’t know the answer to that yet! But all I can say is that your friends, family, and clubs are all going to be there when you get back. I don’t think I’ll ever have a chance to do this again, so it would be so silly of me not to go and explore.
Right now, it’s 4 days until I leave. I’ll be heading out on January 5th at night in order to arrive in London on the morning of the 6th. That’s not a lot of hours left, which means I should probably stop drinking so much tea and actually start to mark a few things off of my packing list and pre-departure to do list!
I’ll be posting a blog when I come back with what I really needed to bring, which you can find here (eventually).