5 Things I Wish I Knew Before Going Abroad

Everyone will tell you that studying abroad was an incredible experience and maybe even the best four months of their lives. You see all the photos on social media of students traveling all over Europe, Australia, New Zealand, you name it. They make it all look so easy and glamorous. However, what they don’t tell you is that not everything will be perfect and that is absolutely okay. Here are 5 major things that I wish I knew before I went abroad that I think every student thinking of studying abroad should try to put into perspective.


1. Prepare to get comfortable with being uncomfortable

Although it may look on social media like others are adjusting to their new surroundings super quickly and making new friends right away. IT IS OKAY if that is not your case. You most likely will not feel totally comfortable right away and that is totally normal. I found that once I accepted the fact that I was out of my element in Italy, I became more willing to challenge myself to adjust to the environment. So take your time to get to know the culture you are experiencing, and don’t put too much pressure on yourself to adjust to everything all at once. It is a gradual process, and everyone is different!


2. Don’t get too booking crazy at the beginning

Try not to get too caught up in trying to get everywhere and see everything. Yes, is it the perfect opportunity to travel to places in close proximity and save money doing it, BUT don’t book trips just to say you went there or did that. Think about places that you truly want to visit and go from there. You certainly aren’t required to be in a different country every weekend simply because you can. You might even find that if you set aside more time to spend in your host country that you will learn more about it and have a greater appreciation for the travel elsewhere that you do.


3. It is not all about social media

Studying abroad is a very exciting time and of course, you are going to want to share your experience with friends and family though social media. With that being said try not to stress over getting “the perfect Instagram post.” I for one am a huge Instagram fan, but keep in mind that you didn’t travel halfway across the world just to post cool pictures and get lots of likes. You are there to immerse yourself in a new culture and take it all in. I know it is easy to get wrapped up in how your social media looks, but you will thank yourself in the end if you try to detach yourself from the social media world while you’re traveling.


4. Learn to laugh at the things that don’t go as planned

Although you may plan out every detail of your time abroad, 9 times out of 10, things will not go just as you expected them to, but that is the beauty of it all. You might get lost trying to get home, you might have to sprint through the airport to catch a flight, and your cell phone just might get stolen (trust me I learned this one the hard way). HOWEVER, I can assure you that you grow the most from the things that go wrong. So try not to stress over the details and always keep a good sense of humor. Besides what’s the fun in doing everything according to the plan anyway?


5. Take care of yourself

Last but not least, TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF. You may feel like you constantly need to be traveling and having the best time ever. Between going to classes, traveling on the weekends, and enjoying an exciting nightlife, it is very easy to get run down. This is especially true when you first get there and everything is exciting and new. Remember to take time for yourself to recharge, relax, and take a breather when you need to. You will enjoy yourself way more if you are staying healthy both mentally and physically. Take a nap, or a long walk outside, or even grab a cappuccino and do some people watching. Just make sure that you give yourself the time to do whatever you need to do to regroup.


You make the rules and you are the only one who can decide what you want to get out of your study abroad experience. So make it your own and take it all in!