When going abroad, your mind might go through an emotional roller coaster. It might not, but it very well could. From both personal experience and what I have heard from others whom have been abroad, going through emotional challenges is fairly common. You are most likely headed to a new place, you may or may not know the language, and you might not know anyone. I hope that with this blog I can give you or someone you know advice to combat any stirring challenges that may come their way while studying abroad.
I think being nervous and excited to go abroad is typical. However, you could be scared. Maybe you always wanted to go abroad and now that you will be you’re unbelievably freaked out. In this case, I would try and talk to someone. Talk with a loved one, a friend or partner, or even an education abroad peer ambassador in the advising center of Bradley hall. Sometimes, just having someone listen is all you might need. If that doesn’t put your mind at ease before leaving, I would try and read up on some blogs about going abroad or going to your host country. Try and mentally remind yourself that you are doing a great thing, and even though it may seem challenging, the experience is such a payoff.
While being abroad, you might experience home sickness. I know people who didn’t at all, but there were definitely times where I did. When you are going abroad for a semester or more, I feel that it is more likely to happen. It can be a struggle and maybe you are going to class and all you’re thinking about is that home cooked meal your mom makes or your pet(s) (amongst other things). In this situation, I think communication is also key. Skype with family and friends from back home. Stay connected through social media. But, in doing so, try and find a good balance of that and your time abroad. Try and make new friends (easier than it sounds sometimes) and explore where you are. Put yourself out there to the best of your ability and try new things, by doing so, you are experiencing a new culture and taking your mind off things.
Overall, I recommend communication when you possibly approach those emotionally dark places. Know that you’re not alone and there are people in similar situations with you or have felt that way before. Wherever you are going, you are there to accomplish something. Keep your goals in mind, hold onto who you are, and communicate. Every day may not be sunshine and rainbows, but you ultimately control whether your experience is a good or bad one.
Lauren Bix is a 3rd year senior at the University of Kentucky. Her major is in French and francophone studies and her time abroad was in Caen, Normandy, France, spring semester 2016.