Study Abroad is Scary (and You Should Do it Anyway!)

When I first started thinking about studying abroad, I had so many fears. What about the planning? What about the deadlines? What about the language? What about my friends, my family, and my boyfriend??

I would like to say that in deciding to apply, I conquered those fears, but that isn’t really true. I decided to do this because I know that I should, but taking the plunge never stops being scary. There is no way to see every hurdle that I will be facing in the coming semester, but I know that whatever happens, I will make it my own.

Does that take confidence? Yes. And building that confidence is a process that falls on a different timeline for everyone. Could I have done this a semester ago? No. A year ago? Absolutely not. But one day I decided that this was the way I was going to close the gap between the Me That I Am and the Me That I Want to Be. I was going to hold my breath and jump—and I have to say, there is something freeing about the fall.

It is scary to leave behind all the people you love, even just for a while. It’s easy to imagine that everyone will move on without you. But realistically, everyone will be here waiting when you return. And I am more and more exhilarated by the idea of freeing myself, even temporarily, from everything holding me in place. Who am I without all the people, things, and responsibilities with which I associate?

Hopefully someone a little bit braver. Someone who makes a fool of themselves in their second language—someone who is actually fluent in a second language! Maybe someone a little more decisive. Someone who wears more daring clothes. Someone who isn’t scared to stray from the beaten path—with a little help. Someone who sees the world a little differently.

At this point, I have been approved to study abroad by St. Edward’s, and as of last week, I have been accepted by my provider program!

There are a great many things left be to planned, submitted, approved, and packed before I make my tearful goodbyes, but I am writing this to tell YOU—the person unsure about travel, scared to be alone, nervous about language barriers—to close your eyes and jump. If the people you are worried about leaving behind truly love you, they’ll be waiting for you when you come home. You probably have time to travel after college, but it will never be like this again. Go somewhere. Test yourself. I have spoken to a great many college graduates who regret having never studied abroad.

The people around you and the community you love may seem like the most important thing. And If you’re like me, you might feel like you just found somewhere that you belong for the first time. But it is even more rewarding to leave it all behind and discover that you are still whole without it.