Everyone talks about how great it is to study abroad, and after just a week in my program, I can say it is the greatest thing to ever happen to me. However, when I first got here, all I wanted was to book a flight back home. Nobody really tells you any of the downsides. Here are some of the things I wish people told me before going abroad:
1. It’s okay to talk to your family a lot
I can almost guarantee when you get settled in on your first night in a new place with new people, you’re going to miss the comfort of home. Trying new things is exciting, yet intimidating. It’s okay to miss home, and it’s okay to want to call your family more than you thought you would.
2. Wanting to go home is normal
I can’t even begin to count the amount of times I sat in my room wishing I was home the first couple of days. Jet lag, not feeling well and being somewhere completely new without friends really takes a toll on you. You see all your friends’ pictures on Instagram, or tweets from back home and you start to think that you could be a part of what they’re doing if you hadn’t studied abroad. You start thinking of all the time you could be spending with family, friends and special others, and it leads you want to book a flight back home immediately.
3. You’re going to think…a lot
It starts to get a little easier as the days go by and you start to look at train, bus or plane tickets to your next destination. You look at pictures of all the cool places you’re going to go, and start to get excited, but there’s still part of you that doesn’t want to be there. You might even feel guilty about that too, because everyone is waiting to hear about how much fun you’re having. Someone is going to tell you that it’s okay, and it will get better, but how do you know?
4. You’re going to realize it really is okay
Making friends at a university while studying abroad is much easier than I ever thought it would be. Many people are experiencing something new away from home and they will want to get to know you. On the third day of my orientation, someone came up to me and asked if they were in the right spot and immediately struck up conversation. By the time the tour started, there were 15 of us and we went to lunch afterwards. You start exploring and can’t believe you’re really there. Then you never want to go back home.
During the time I was sad, the piece of advice that helped me the most was, “Try to have a good day. Get up and say ‘I can do this, it’s been my dream and I’m going to be okay.’ Try it, be positive.” It worked for me, and it could work for you. Next thing you know, you’ll find yourself doing the equivalent of eating Italian gelato in front of the Duomo in your host country.
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