I remember sitting in the car, on the way to the airport, my stomach was turning and my hands were sweating. I told my mom I didn’t want to go to Greece anymore. I had no idea what I was getting myself into and it was hard to feel excited for something I was doing, alone. All I knew was that I wanted to grow and challenge myself, and putting myself in uncomfortable positions would help me do that.
Before boarding the plane:
Here are 5 things, I wish I knew before studying abroad, to help stay calm and leave most nerves at home:
#1 Research where you are going to study.
Research, research, research. We all know once that last final is turned in of spring semester, students brains seem to go into intermission for a couple months. Take time out of your day and look into where you’re studying, to find places you really would like to visit. You might not know you want to explore a certain part of a country until you read about one! When I was on my way home from my trip to Greece, I found myself on the internet reading about all these amazing places and restaurants that were right where I was living! Find and map out places before your trip so you don’t miss out.
#2 You will make friends. It’s like a repeat of freshman year, no need to worry.
Right when I landed in my Athens, I met about five people who were also studying abroad with ISA. We talked about how excited we were about the experience, the classes, our nerves, and the plane ride over. We were all in the same boat: traveling abroad alone and just waiting for the adventure to start. By the time we arrived at our dorms, I already had made so many connections and friends!
#3 Always keep an open mind, throughout the whole trip.
Before leaving the country for a month, take some time to get in the right mindset. There’s nothing worse than looking back at your time abroad and regretting not doing something because you were close-minded. Within three weeks of my trip, I had created special relationships with certain people and would hang out with them most of my time. I regret not asking a local girl in my music class to go get coffee or hang out outside of the classroom. I also regret not going downtown to explore more when I had the free time or when I was alone because I was too tired or nervous. I ended up missing out on so much more information I could have gained about myself and the culture. I wish someone had told me to always search for new perspectives and take time to invest in other people to have more adventure and get the most out of your time abroad.
#4 If you tell yourself you won’t shop… You’re lying.
A new place always comes with new shops. Remember that. Don’t be fooled; most of the touristy shop have the same exact souvenirs and clothes. I did most of my shopping towards the end of my trip because with all the time I had to look around, I really knew what I wanted.
#5 With a whole new country to explore, you don’t have time to be homesick.
When you’re in an unfamiliar place there’s always going to be something to do. I did get a little homesick when I was jet lagged, not feeling the best, or in a bad mood. After about 2 minutes of thinking about home I would snap out of it and realize I was in Greece! I told myself I don’t have time to be homesick, I might only be able to go abroad once in my lifetime. If you ever find yourself getting homesick just try to think of how lucky and fortunate you are to be studying abroad.
Soon you will be arriving to your destination and in a blink of an eye, you will be on your flight home reminiscing of all the memories in your mind.
Your Discovery. Our People… The World Awaits.