Taking the leap of faith and deciding to study abroad is already a huge step, one which may already be out of your comfort zone. But since you were brave enough to go through with staying in a new country for your education abroad program, why stop there? Each and every day, doing new things and taking risks on things that you wouldn’t do at home can make your experiences abroad even more meaningful.
If you don’t know where to start, baby steps are perfectly fine. Not used to the public transportation system in your new city? Buy a ticket, hop on a bus, train, or subway and ride a few of the routes. Learn how the system works and where the stops can take you. Just doing this will get you more comfortable with your new city and soon you’ll feel perfectly confident getting around. Not used to non-American foods? Try that escargot, that kimchi, or that cuy that you never imagined you’d be able to taste. Just trying something out of the norm could mean finding your new favorite food and hopefully it will make you more open to trying more foods from your host country.
If you’ve taken some small steps out of your comfort zone, you will definitely feel more comfortable in your new city and you’ll be more likely to take some bigger leaps of faith, which I did literally. For me, swimming in the ocean has always scared me just a little bit, and the cold, turbulent waters off the west coast of Ireland were the most intimidating to me. I had always noticed a diving platform located in Galway Bay, but I had to convince myself over the course of the two semesters I was there that I would do it before I left. One frigid, windy morning, I decided it was the day I was going to do it. Despite the intimidating waves crashing against the platform and the biting wind whipping my hair in my face, I slowly climbed the steep stairs to the top of the platform. Standing up there and looking down, I had the biggest rush of adrenaline and I finally forced myself to jump off into the Atlantic. Hitting the water took my breath away, not just because the coldness of the water felt like a million pins and needles on my skin, but because I had finally done it! It was something that I aspired to do for such a long time, and it was so out of my comfort zone, but I did it. I think that’s why to me it was one of the most memorable parts of my experience abroad.
Everyone deserves to have that feeling. If there is something you have always wanted to do abroad, but you’ve had reservations about doing it, do it! You may be nervous and reluctant at first, but I guarantee that once you’ve accomplished the task, whether it’s climbing a mountain (I also attempted that), going scuba diving, or just exploring an unfamiliar city, you will be incredibly proud of yourself and it will be something you always remember. That goes for the small risks you take too. Like I mentioned, anything that you do outside of your comfort zone is an accomplishment and will help you feel good about yourself, adjust to living abroad, and give you memories that will last a lifetime. So, how will you take your leap of faith?
Photos courtesy of Danielle Beam.
Danielle Beam is a junior at the University of Kentucky studying Psychology. Danielle participated in the Celtic Blue program at Arcadia University and National University of Ireland Galway during the 2014-2015 academic year.