For the past few months my Timehop has been cruelly reminding me of the wonderful time I spent abroad in the summer of 2014. Other than moving to one of the greatest cities in the world (NYC), studying abroad was probably my favorite college experience. Although my schedule would not allow me to attend a full semester I am thankful for the two months I spent living in beautiful Roma and traveling around Europe.
If you find yourself stuck between studying abroad or not, stop thinking about it and just do it. Of course it’s easier said than done. Some might not be able to because of financial reasons, but if it’s fear keeping you from applying to a program and booking that plane ticket I’m here to tell you that’s ok. In fact I would be surprised if you weren’t scared, I mean after all you are moving across an ocean (maybe farther) for an extended period of time. An unfamiliar place where the comforts of home will suddenly disappear. I would be lying to you if I said I didn’t cry my entire first week abroad, but once I got over it (and after my parents told me I wasn’t allowed to come home – thanks mom & dad!) I was crying when it was time to leave. I would take a week of tears and short spells of homesickness to do it all over again.
For those of you that are hesitant, I’m hoping that from my own experience I can help you make the make decision to step outside your comfort zone and embark on this incredible journey. I’m telling you, you won’t regret it.
Why You Should
Studying abroad is all about stepping out of your comfort zone, away from all things familiar. You will be challenged almost everyday, between the language barrier to simple things like going to the grocery store and not knowing you have to weigh your own fruits and vegetables (true story). There will be moments of home sickness and feeling like you might want to give up, but sticking it out is worth it. You will grow so much as a person and learn a lot about yourself, you might not realize it until you get home but trust me you’ll see it.
Going away to school you already gain a bit of independence, but now you’re in a new country. The program and school staff are there to help you, but more or less you are on your own. Embrace the freedom, your study abroad experience is up to you to write and I promise you will learn a lot along the way.
Chance to Learn a Foreign Language
Learning a foreign language can be extremely difficult, especially if you’re unable to practice and apply it to everyday life. Studying abroad gives you the chance to put those language skills to the test and improve them along the way. Aside from your major this can also help you make the decision on where to study. Always wanted to learn Italian? What better place than Italy!
Believe it or not, adding study abroad to your resume says a lot about you. Not only does it show your interest in other cultures, and perhaps a second language, but it also shows your willingness to take risks and ability to adapt to new environments.
Meet New People
One of the best parts of this experience is all the amazing new friends you will make a long the way. Study abroad is very diverse, you will have students from all around the world in your classes. Some people have a hard time talking to someone they don’t know, but don’t be afraid to say hi! Odds are they are just as nervous as you are. Plus making friends from all around the world gives you more opportunities to travel and have a place to stay when doing so!
Chance to Travel
For those of you that haven’t been to Europe (assuming this is where you will study abroad) you’ll be excited to learn that you can country hop easily, and extremely cheap (music to a college students ears)! On top of cheap travel most classes are Monday – Thursday leaving long weekends free to explore. I was fortunate enough to visit 8 different countries while abroad, and good news is you can too!
How To Get Through It
Remember that your time abroad is temporary and precious. You may not feel homesick while being away at school, but moving to a foreign country is bit different. You will have feelings of homesickness and maybe shed a few tears, but remember this isn’t permanent (unless you want it to be) enjoy your time and this amazing experience because for most of us it’s once in a lifetime.
Bring something that reminds you of home. Whether that be a personal item or your favorite candy, in moments of homesickness it could bring comfort.
STAY OFF SOCIAL MEDIA AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE. This is especially true during the holidays, you will have major FOMO looking at all your friends at a Fourth of July BBQ, but remember you’re abroad and they probably wish they were you.
Keep phone contact with home to a minimum. I know that kind of sounds horrible but it relates to staying off social media. Talking to loved ones back home doesn’t help with homesickness, especially when calling your mom lol. I’m not saying don’t call home to tell them about your day at the Vatican or how you’ve landed safely in Prague, just try to keep it short and sweet.
And most importantly HAVE FUN!! Again this might be a once in a lifetime opportunity, enjoy yourself. Meet new people, make new friends, explore new places. I promise you this will be the best experience of your life!
↓↓↓Some photos from my time abroad! ↓↓↓