Do you ever spend your whole week doing the same thing, day after day? Wake up, go to class, hang out with friends, come back home, watch Netflix, eat dinner, study, sleep. How about studying abroad?
Last year, I began to feel trapped by the monotony that plagued my everyday life.
I found myself needing something more, needing a change from my normal routine… which is why, one week before the deadline, I decided to apply for an exchange program on a whim. A year later, I embarked on something completely foreign by studying abroad at in London, England.
My wanting to live abroad came as a surprise to no one. Anyone who knows me knows that I can’t stay in one place for too long before my feet become restless and I begin to crave something different, which is why I’ve lived in four different cities in the span of two years. To me, home is a feeling, not a place. My heart doesn’t belong to a specific town or city on a map – it’s intricately tied to the sense of happiness and hope I feel when I’m somewhere new. And while it’s difficult to put “happiness” and “hope” into words, I’d say the definitions are very close to the feelings of absolute contentment and optimism I felt the entire time I was in London.
They say that life begins at the end of your comfort zone.
For many, being away from home can be a terrifying thought, which is exactly why I recommend escaping that safe bubble of familiarity and studying abroad for a few months. It sounds like a cliché, but leaving will change you, in more ways than one. You’ll learn that feeling at home is simply a state of mind, and that you’re capable of so much more than you ever thought.
You want culture? The best way to experience culture is to live it.
You want to be more independent? You’ll have no choice but to rely on yourself when you’re an ocean away from everyone and everything that’s familiar to you. Your confidence is a little low? Your sense of self will grow every time you push yourself outside of your comfort zone while you’re abroad – which, by the way, is nearly every day. You’re scared you’ll miss out on things back at home? Trust me, the experiences you’ll have and the adventures you’ll embark on will by far outweigh the FOMO you’ll feel while looking at your friends and families’ pictures and Snapchats
But that doesn’t mean it won’t be hard.
It’s so easy for people who have studied abroad to sugarcoat the entire experience, and claim that every day was life-changing and magical. But what they don’t tell you is that studying abroad can get incredibly lonely. When you move away from home, you’re stripped of your identity and forced to start anew – while exciting and refreshing, this can also be difficult. At times, you’ll feel vulnerable, homesick and directionless.
You’ll wonder why you ever thought it was a good idea to move to another country. There are people you’ll miss, like your family, so much that before you know it, you’re looking up the cheapest flights home. You’ll wonder if you friends miss you or think about you at all. You’ll lose yourself and find yourself, over and over again. But the hard times are what make the experience so worth it. They make you stronger and more resilient, and help you appreciate the good times that much more. If you never catapult yourself outside of your comfort zone, you’ll never know what challenges you’re capable of overcoming.
So if you’re thinking about studying abroad and have the financial means to do so, get on a plane and don’t look back. Get out there. Go find yourself. It’s a beautiful thing. You have nowhere to go but everywhere, and nothing to gain but everything.