1. Jet lag is a real thing and there is no easy way to overcome it
The world is full of tips and tricks to help you kick it to the curb, but don’t bank on being able to skip that part of traveling, because it probably won’t work. You’ll want to eat dinner at 4 a.m. You’ll feel tired for a week and your internal clock will be wacky for a month. It will feel like your days are 48 hours long instead of 24. And once you go back home, you get to do it all over again. It wouldn’t hurt to arrive a few days earlier than what you initially planned.
2. Grocery shopping is a feat and you deserve to feel accomplished after you’ve done it
It will take you twice as long to shop because there isn’t a Walmart, Target, Publix or a ‘one stop shop.’ Fruits and vegetables are usually cheaper at the markets, but they usually only happen once or twice a week. It takes a lot of guess work to get what you want, so choose things based on the picture and brand because it probably won’t be in English. Food is the easy part. Laundry detergent, soap, shampoo: that stuff takes trial and error.
3. It’s okay to fake it ‘till you make it
Don’t be afraid to ask for help or directions. If you do get lost, pretend you know where you are and be amazed by what you get to see. If you get off at the wrong train station, wait a few minutes for the next one. When the locals walk across the tram tracks or in the middle of the road, do it too. And if they jaywalk, follow suit. When everyone is quiet on the train, don’t be that loud and annoying person. Watch how the world around you works and integrate it into the way you work in your new home.
4. You need friends
Talk to people. Go out on a limb and step out of your comfort zone. Head to a party or a concert, talk to the people who live in your building, sit by someone new in one of your classes. Join a club or a gym. Be yourself and smile a lot and people will come to you, too. You’re not the only one in a new place and everybody wants a good friend or two to go on adventures with and tackle this new life you are living.
5. It might be the hardest thing you will ever do in your life
Saying goodbye to the people you love, who love you, your friends, your family, the home you grew up in, the college you love, the food you’re accustomed to, the sunshine, your teammates. You are going to a new place where they might not speak your language and you may know no one. The lifestyle is different: they could eat dinner at 9 p.m., their 'stylish’ fashion doesn’t fit with what you packed in your suitcase, your 'apartment’ is really just a white box, you have to be dependent on public transportation.
6. It will be the best time of your life
Go with the flow and do some crazy things once in a while. Make memories, write in a journal or on a blog, take pictures every single day. Get on a plane or a train and go somewhere just for the heck of it. You will create friends that you will be by your side for eternity. You will be challenged; you’ll find new hobbies and joys; you will gain confidence, knowledge, and independence. And you will laugh a whole lot, so cherish every second.
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