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Remembering The Little Things on Study Abroad

A lot of changes take place during study abroad and one of the best ideas we have come up with is making set goals for yourself during your time away. These goals can be big and complicated like visiting 10 countries during your time overseas, or small and simple like making friends with 3 students native to the country you are studying in. Either way, we feel that it’s so important to focus the change in your life so as not to lose sight of the reasons you decided to do study abroad. We feel that creating goals helps you to overall maintain a healthy purpose.

Study abroad is a whole different ball game compared to just going to college in the United States. While abroad you also have to keep in mind that there could be a language barrier, massive cultural differences, and a completely different educational system. We definitely aren’t saying this to scare you away from studying abroad because sooner or later these differences become commonplace and life abroad becomes the new normal. You will find that the other students around you are all outside of their comfort zones as well and honestly, it truly is an advantage.

When people have to spend a lot of their time outside of their comfort zone, vulnerability doesn’t seem as weird. It is so easy to make friends abroad because you’re sharing the experiences of carrying on your life in an environment so different from what you’re used to. One of the major differences in making friends abroad is that people are more willing to share their mistakes. By this we mean that they aren’t so afraid to look stupid and communicate honestly, people are more willing to laugh at themselves and move on rather than hold on to that embarrassment.

One thing that is really important to remember is that you’re life isn’t actually on hold. It will feel that way at times, you’re not on your usual campus, with your usual friends, doing your usual routine so it almost seems like you stepped out of it for a semester. We find that this feeling inspires that inner anxiety of “I’m not making the most of my study abroad experience” because you want to do so much before you step back into your old routine. This, however, is not true. You are still living your life, you will be different, your school, your friends, your routine will all be different when you get back. Your life is not on hold, you are still living it every day whether that be at Bryant, Belfast or Berlin.

Making new experiences for yourself and seizing every opportunity during your time abroad doesn’t all have to be about doing major stuff. Weekend trips to other countries are super fun and truly do add to study abroad, if you can do that we highly recommend it. However, remember the little goals you have for yourself in general. Your life is still moving forward and you have an advantage because you’re constantly out of your comfort zone so new experiences get less scary and more reasonable.

My name is Amber Marin, I am the first and only student from Bryant University to study abroad at Queen’s University of Belfast in Northern Ireland. This weekend I had the opportunity to visit Prague, Czech Republic and I had an absolutely amazing weekend for sooo many reasons. One of the best opportunities I took was to cross something insignificant off my bucket list. I have always wanted to go to a restaurant and eat alone, I had never done that before and it seemed like an experience I needed. I was in Prague alone for a short time due to a differences in flight times with a friend a met up with. I took that opportunity to take myself to a nice little bistro on the river overlooking Old Town. I was already outside of my comfort zone traveling alone in a foreign country where I didn’t speak the language, so I thought I might as well add a little extra to the situation.

When I sat down for breakfast I decided not to focus on negative thoughts I had about eating alone or the opinions of others and I realized that I am really great company. I had nothing but positive self-talk. I had flown to Prague by myself, made my way through the city, had an amazing weekend with my friends and now I was here in a little bistro alone having breakfast. All amazing accomplishments on both sides of the scale. I was so glad I allowed myself the opportunity to cross one of my smaller goals off my life list rather than just focusing on the goals I had given myself for study abroad.

We know that study abroad is an exciting time and there is so much to do and accomplish. Give yourself credit for the small stuff as well as the big stuff. Don’t lose track of the goals you have given yourself in life because you never know when the opportunity will present itself to achieve them. We believe that it is key to making sure your study abroad experience makes a positive impact on your life. 

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