Coming up on the one-week mark of my semester in Chile, I have come to see that studying abroad is just as much (if not more) a mental game as studying and sightseeing. Here is the starting line-up to beating the mental game of studying abroad. You can do it!
- Take things little by little.
As they would say in Chile “poco a poco.” Take things little by little. One day at a time, one step at a time. Know that where you see yourself in 5 months is not going to happen the second you step off the plane. Take deep breaths and know that with a steady mindset you will get there.
In many ways your experience is just like freshman year all over again. You are in a new place, at a new school, and with new people – soaking it all in, but also overwhelmed by the literally foreign atmosphere. Find comfort in knowing that you made it through that and are now seeing your university at home as your “stomping ground.” Let the fact that the uncertain circumstances shape us drive your mind to trust where you are is where you need to be.
- See the privilege you are living and the opportunities you will have.
As much a studying abroad is a huge step into being stripped raw of comfort – it is a choice. There is purpose in where you are and what you are doing. Seek that purpose and fulfill it. It is a privilege to be where you are and to say you lived in a foreign country for 4-5 months. The opportunities you will have are those that mean people can only dream of accomplishing.
- Walk with Confidence
Walk the walk and talk the talk. There is no pleasure in shrinking back. Just as we know in the comfort of the place we are familiar with back home, life goes by fast. This time will be here and there before you know it.
Rip the band-aid off and get after it! Laugh at yourself and keep trying. Put a fixed and steady mindset to whatever it is that you would like to accomplish in your time abroad.
- Try not to think of home.
During the first week when home is still so present in your memory, it is hard not to, but try to focus on being present where your feet are. Thinking of home is certainly not a bad thing. I have many people and things I miss dearly at home, but it can become dangerous to dwell on these things to where it inhibits you from experiencing a new culture and expanding your viewpoint on life.
Dedicate a certain amount of time each day to talk to people at home or be on social media. If you keep dwelling on the things you are used to at home or that you miss, your semester will be robbed of many wonderful opportunities.
- Enjoy the process.
Studying abroad is a process. It is a roller coaster of emotions and truly a time of just being uncomfortable. Training and growth are a process. The process is where we surrender ourselves to keeping an open mind, a strong head on our shoulders, and zeal to live life today.
But of course, my mom said it best with this tip she gave me before I left: Be true to yourself.
Celebrate today! There is life to be lived no matter where you are.
The world awaits…discover it.