What Nobody Tells You About Studying Abroad

 

Maybe you’re thinking about studying abroad or maybe you’re just curious about this intriguing experience that everyone is always buzzing about. Sure, studying abroad is an amazing experience and I definitely don’t regret the three months I spent in Spain last year, but there are certainly some parts of my story that I tend to leave out when telling people about the my trip. It’s not all fun and games, but as I like to think of it - everything that goes wrong is just another adventure in the daily struggle of living through your most exciting experience yet!

It’s easy to forget the bad and focus on the good experiences, so just in case you are thinking about studying abroad, let there be no surprises in your journey. Here are eight experiences to prepare yourself for the unexpected things that nobody ever seems to tell you about studying abroad.

 

1. You will cry. A lot. Starting in the airport before you leave home, some tears will surely be shead. Afterall, you’re leaving your family, your friends and pretty much your whole life behind in order to embark on this new adventure. And the tears won’t stop there, living abroad is a scary experience, so don’t be surprised if you catch yourself tearing up throughout your trip. Whenever this happens, just remember that everything will be okay and don’t be afraid to let it out.

 

2. You will miss home. Even though you are literally living the dream and all your family and friends are probably looking at your social media posts with envy, there will be times when you feel as though you would do anything just to be in their shoes. The life of traveling can be a little overwhelming and you just might long to spend a low-key day at home in your pajamas. It’s okay to miss home, but try not to spend too much time wishing you could leave. The experience will go by fast enough as it is.

 

3. Traveling is highly stressful. From catching taxis, Ubers, trains, buses and planes, it may seem like you are constantly waiting around and worried about how you will get to your next destination. I wouldn’t believe it if I hadn’t experienced it myself, but you can definitely become sick of traveling. Even so, don’t let this fact stop you from going out and exploring, but just be aware that the stress and exhaustion of traveling might get the better of you.

 

4. You will doubt yourself. Believe me, the day my parents dropped me off at the airport was one of the worst days - I bawled my eyes out and didn’t even want to leave. You’ll probably find yourself questioning why you even decided to do this in the first place, but in the end your bravery and perseverance will be worth it for all the amazing memories and experiences.

 

5. The language barrier is tricky. Even if you’re majoring in the language, you will surely meet some uptight natives who judge you for not being a perfect speaker. You might even get into some embarrassing situations where you misinterpreted what someone told you, or confidently said something that made no sense. My favorite example of this was when one of the other girls I knew had a conversation with her host mom about the differences between food in the United States and Spain. She told her mom she thought Spanish food seemed a lot more fresh because American food has a lot of “preservativos.” Her mom then corrected her to say the word is “conservativos” because she had just told her that American food has a lot of condoms in it. This just goes to show you that no matter how embarrassing the situation may be, it makes for a good story later on.

 

6. You will get lost. And by lost I mean VERY lost. You don’t know the true feeling until you’ve been lost in a random country with no maps or phone service and no one to ask for help. At one point, my friends and I confidently walked in the wrong direction for 45 minutes and didn’t realize it until we reached the edge of the city. On another occasion I got lost in the rain for an hour because I couldn’t figure out how to get back to my house. Whenever this happens, just think of it as an adventure!

 

7. You will miss the strangest things. Sure there’s the typical things you miss like your family, friends, bed, normal food, etc, but don’t be surprised if you begin to miss some things you never expected. For me, one of those things was working. Maybe I just needed to be back in a routine or maybe it was the seemingly excessive amount of free time we had compared to what I was used to, but I even had a dream about how much I couldn’t wait to go back to work. Just remember, no matter how much you may miss something, it will be waiting for you when you get back home, so don’t let those things take away from your time while you are away.

 

8. Random things will forever remind you of the experience. On multiple occasions since I’ve been back, I have just been going about my day when out of the blue, I will be instantly reminded of something from my trip. It could be a smell, a certain food, something someone said, or pretty much anything. For example, I was washing my hands one day at work and we had gotten a new kind of soap. As soon as I used it, the smell brought back all my memories of Spain because it was the same scent of hand sanitizer my friend had brought that we used countless times throughout the trip. Sometimes even the littlest memories are the best reminder to put a smile on your face.

 

Although there will be a lot of ups and downs to studying abroad, you will never regret the experience you had and the memories that were made. Even the bad memories will be flooded over with all of your unforgettable experiences. You will have your own memories and stories to tell and will surely be able to add on to this list of things you never expected. However, there’s one thing I can assure you of: wherever you go, whatever your story is, it is sure to be an adventure.