Studying Abroad Gives Quarantine a New Perspective

Regardless of whether you’re an introvert or extrovert, we are all feeling the impacts of quarantine. As an ambivert, I can tell you I miss driving around in circles with my friends while playing ridiculously loud music—to the point where the car is physically shaking—, embarrassing myself meeting new people, or going to my favorite Italian restaurant a few miles away.

It’s frustrating because we've all been robbed of precious time forming or developing relationships, academic opportunities, and executing our travel wish-lists. We all had different plans for our spring semester or summer abroad, all of which came to a screeching halt. We rushed to pack up our things, hastily say our goodbyes to close friends (if we had the chance), leave our dorms, and ultimately adapt to life back in our childhood homes. It’s not easy and we are all coping in different ways.

After spending my first semester in Australia, via the program, I've realized many of the tactics I explored in my time there are extremely applicable now. From communication to isolation, studying abroad has allowed me to encounter quarantine in a different way. Below are some ways I’ve found myself dealing with this newfound experience.

  1. 1. Meet up With Friends...Even When Far Away From Each Other

    Personally, I’m trying to cope with quarantine the same way I coped with missing my friends and family while studying abroad. When I studied in Australia last year, I said goodbye to my parents and traveled 10,000 miles to a foreign land. I missed my friends and family but I facetimed with them often. Now I find myself in a familiar place, but I still miss seeing my friends, a feeling that can be relieved by facetiming regularly to stay connected. In these anxious times, it can be so nice to hear a friend’s voice or see their face on a screen. Contrary to popular belief, rather than my relationships slowly dwindling due to distance, I found myself forming stronger relationships with people like my sister and friends while abroad because I was able to focus on big issues rather than petty differences. Something vital to note is to not set social expectations, especially in times like these because not everyone is the same. For instance, some people are not the quickest when responding to texts, but that doesn’t mean they don't care. 

    Isolating ourselves at home doesn’t mean we're not consumed by the thoughts and emotions this uncertain situation is causing us. Still, by using Facetime, setting up a Zoom happy hour, or going for a walk with a friend virtually, we can stay connected virtually—even when far apart.

  2. 2. Little Things Make a Difference

    When I had to deal with a 15-hour time difference in Australia, where midnight for me was the crack of dawn for my parents in New York, in addition to phone calls, I also sent letters. Of course, writing handwritten letters can be tedious, but don’t tell me you don't get excited when you find a letter with your name on it in the mailbox. It shows that a) someone took the time to collect their thoughts and write them all down to send to you, b) a friend is showing they care, and c) unlike a text, a letter is a unique physical artifact that won't get lost in your messages.

    Love letter with flowers
  3. 3. Explore New Activities

    In my days abroad, I partook in events like traveling to the Sydney Opera House, going to an exotic animal sanctuary, and even attending a wine tasting in New Zealand. While my list of activities to explore may be limited at home, there are still things I’m able to do. I can practice my driving, discover some hidden hiking trails, or even write another book.

    Cameron Smith-Girl Colorado Travel Hiking Trees Nature Hat Sunglasses
  4. 4. Make a Quarantine Bucket List

    In the midst of all this, I’m curating a list of all the things I can't wait to do when things lighten up. For starters, I can’t wait to give all my friends five minute long hugs, buy that amazing pumpkin ravioli from the Bronx, travel to new places, and continue to make lasting memories.

    a hand holds a pen writing on sheets of paper on a wooden desk. there's a coffee cup and a notebook in front of it.

Things may be a bit out of the ordinary right now, but it’s not for forever. I am so fortunate for all the great people I have in my life and I love talking to them every day. I just can't wait to see them in person soon.

Until then, go grab that pen and write a letter...or scroll through your contact list to make a new Zoom buddy!


Gossip Girl (just kidding, but if you need a show to binge-watch on Netflix, this is a prime way to start with six seasons full of teen drama!)