If you’re anything like me, you get nervous to try new things. Excited? Sure. Confident? Absolutely. But still, nervous. To overcome these apprehensions, I normally search for the testaments and exposés of other individuals in order to understand the emotions I have and how I can evolve them into the tools I need to be successful.
Check out these five books that I used to prepare to study abroad:
1. Wild by Cheryl Strayed
I related to this ill-prepared, impulsive and independent backpacker all too well. Wild is the story of a woman who sets out on the Pacific Crest Trail, alone, to find closure with her recent divorce and loss of her mother. Although I have faced neither of those misfortunes, Wild captures the trials and pleasures of a maddening new journey that ultimately brought her to the healing she was looking for.
2. Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell
Even if you have no intention of studying abroad this is a must-read. Gladwell facilitates a conversation about the outliers in our modern world – the proud and few, brilliant, good-looking and wildly successful individuals of our time. He reminds us that we pay too much attention to what successful people are like, and too little attention to where they are from and the experiences that add to their upbringing. He might also mention that you need to be willing to invest 10,000 hours in a focused course of study to ever become a master of the art. Best of luck.
3. The Invention of Nature: The Adventures of Alexander von Humboldt, the Lost Hero of Science by Andrea Wulf
I’ll be honest, I tossed this one in for scientific appeal. Andrea Wulf’s purpose is to remind us of the forgotten life of Alexander von Humbolt. Humbolt is known for his daring expeditions and investigations into different facets of the world. He manages to use scientific observations to connect and explain things like climate change and political capital (this book incites intellectual thinking). Not to mention Alex was buds with Thomas Jefferson and knows every word to the Bill of Rights. Just kidding, I have no idea if he knew every word to the Bill of Rights.
4. The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are by Brené Brown
Studying abroad is exactly what everyone says – life changing. Brené Brown is your girl when it comes to confronting those life changes through authenticity and wholehearted living – a way of engaging with the world from a place of worthiness. Learning new languages and exploring new cultures is exciting, but can also be trying at times. This book helps you to explore how to cultivate courage, compassion and connection and to understand your worth.
5. Americanah by Chimamanda Nogiz Adichie
This is your dose of realistic fiction before studying abroad. Americanah reveals a story of love and race between Ifemelu and Obinze, Nigerian citizens connected to studies in the United States and life occurring at home in Nigeria. The reality of globalization is an important characteristic to recognize in the novel, for it will help you understand the impact globalization also has on the rest of the world.
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