The A’s of Abroad
By Jennifer Gunther
You’re embarking on what is going to be one of the biggest journeys in your lifetime: studying abroad. Before you landed, you thought you had it all together. Your toothbrush was packed, your best friends were by your side, and your passport was in hand. What else do you need? As you ask yourself this question, the inner-workings of your brain are squirrelling around to find answers, entering you in the first emotion of actually studying abroad: Anxiety.
Being a 20-something-year-old traveling to a foreign country to LIVE in for an extended period of time is completely insane. First of all, hats off to you because this is a huge opportunity that you are taking advantage of. However, the reality is, it is nerve-wracking. Having anxiety about being away from what’s familiar is completely normal. When this overwhelming feeling clouds over you, embrace it. Obviously easier said than done, but coming to terms with the nerves will ground you. Take a deep breath and tell yourself you are prepared, educated and capable of studying abroad. Switch your anxiety to confidence and believe in yourself!
Now the nerves are finally settling, you’re entering into the next stage of abroad: Adjustment. We are all picky to some extent, so when our atmosphere is disrupted, we may panic. Well don’t panic! Change is good and it will take some getting used to as you start developing your routine. While adjusting to this new culture, you can almost reinvent yourself as well. Submerge yourself in this new culture’s way of life and figure out what’s best for you. Who knows, you may even be that green-smoothie-drinking, book-reading, jogger you’ve always wanted to be!
After you’ve adjusted well, now sit back and realize what you’re doing. You have been given the most amazing opportunity to travel the world and experience all it has to offer. The last “A” of studying abroad is Appreciation. No matter what city you have chosen, appreciate it! The people of this city are welcoming you into their home and allowing you to participate in their way of life. Go out and meet some of the locals, try their national dessert, and dance the night away. Just remember, do not be a “farang kee nok!” This is a saying in the Thai culture meaning “annoying foreigner.” Please be respectful of the community while you are studying there.
Studying abroad is incredible and only a small percentage of students get to experience it. So experience it; experience all the Anxiety, Adjustments, and Appreciations that come with it. Enjoy every minute and don’t nap the days away. Meet new people and have the time of your life!