Attending college brings along a fair share of bonuses, but study abroad opportunities have to be near the top of the list. While the debt won’t be fun at the end, the chance to have lived overseas will all be worth it. For me, this place will be Florence, Italy. I plan to study abroad the fall of next year. Even though I still have almost a year before then, the preparation is exciting and scary! I’m sure those of you who have gone through the process can recall the feelings.
1—The decision stage. “Hong Kong, Paris, Germany, and Florence!? How am I supposed to decide where I’d like to live for a whole semester of my life. That’s absurd. I’m only 19. I don’t believe I’m old enough to be making these sorts of decisions.” Yet you are, because otherwise you wouldn’t be given the chance.
2—The uncertainty stage. By this stage, you have chosen on a destination, but now you don’t know if you should even go at all. The thought of being so far away from family and friends is unbearable. Some of us have never even flown on a plane before, let alone without our parents. We do not feel ready to be living on our own in a different country for several months.
3—The “I need a job” stage. This feeling comes around right after you’ve mentally decided that you will be studying abroad. It’s always a good idea to apply for scholarships to help pay for your trip, but even at that, you’re nervous. You’re starting to realize that you’re broke. You are in college after all! Not only do you need to pay for the trip, but you’d like a little spending cash while you’re there. A job before then might be a good idea.
PHOTO: Lex Kelly
4—The procrastination stage. You can’t remember if there is something you should be doing. You’ve never prepared for something like this. There might have been papers you were supposed to be filling out, but they aren’t due for a couple weeks anyway. It’s a good idea to start planning out things to see and do them ahead of time. There are so many months before you leave that you decide to do it later.
5—The denial stage. “How is it possible that we will be living in Italy this time next year?! I wish we were leaving tomorrow!” During this stage, you face mixed emotions. Confusion, anxiety, and excitement tend to be a few. You ask yourself a million questions. The process is so surreal, that it may take until you’re actually there to comprehend it all.
6—The “it’s time” stage. By now, you’re still months away from departure, but you have accepted the fact that you are going, and you are ready for this next adventure! You finally begin planning out must-see places and even purchase a couple of bathing suits for future weekends on the coast. Your excitement overtakes any last pang of nerves.
If you’ve had the opportunity to live and study abroad you know how much goes into the year prior. It’s all a learning experience. After all, that is why were are going to college. New life experiences help us grow!
Have you ever studied abroad? If you have or plan to, leave me a comment below!
Featured photo by Layne Miller.