On Sunday, January 11, I will be getting on three long connecting flights from Houston, Texas to Seville, Spain for the spring semester. It's been two and a half years since I decided to study abroad during the spring of my junior year, and now my study abroad program is only days away. I can barely fathom the idea that I won't return to B-Town for eight months, and that I will be living and studying in a foreign country for four months. Though it's been said many times by students who choose to study abroad, this is an incredible opportunity that one should definitely take advantage of when they're in college. I already expect these next four months to be jam-packed with adventures and memories that I will have with me for the rest of my life.
Though I haven't yet embarked on my own abroad adventure, there's no denying that going to live in a foreign country is thrilling, but also extremely terrifying. Also, adjusting to your new cultural surroundings is overwhelming, and it's completely normal to feel apprehensive about leaving your comfort zone. Besides the physical preparations--such as packing and putting together your visa and passport--a lot of mental prep goes into studying abroad. For that reason, here are what I believe to be three important tips for emotionally preparing yourself to leave home on that long, incredible journey overseas.
1. Don't know anyone going on your program? No need to freak out. I'm not going to Sevilla with any friends, and I barely know about two people on my program. Scary? Yes, but also rewarding. It's not the end of the world if you don't know anyone. Chances are, almost everyone is in the exact same boat as you, which means that making friends and finding people to travel with shouldn't be as hard as you might think. You just need to put yourself out there!
2. Don't overdo your research. Let's say you want to check out some basic facts about where you'll be living for the year or semester before you leave. That's totally fine! In fact, you should want to be curious about your new surroundings. However, don't spend all your time reading books or heavily sifting through Google to research the country. You might freak yourself out.
3. Lastly--and perhaps the most obvious tip--stay calm, cool and collected. Studying abroad is supposed to be fun--NOT stressful. Over thinking everything becomes unnecessary and can definitely keep you from being openminded. Sometimes, you just gotta go with the flow and enjoy the ride. Traveling is an adventure in and of itself, so soak it up. After all, going abroad goes by fast and you want to make sure to enjoy every second of it!
I hope these tips helped, and I also hope you guys enjoyed my first blog post for WeAreIU! I'm excited to finally get started on writing blogs for the site. However, since I will be in Spain, my posts for WeAreIU may be scarce this semester! But...I'll be blogging throughout my time in Sevilla for friends and family, so if you're interested, be sure to check out my blog at: www.chillinlikeasevillan.wordpress.com.