As you are preparing for your time abroad, surely you are starting to think of some things you are nervous about. That’s definitely normal – even good. Your time abroad will bring brand new experiences for you, and some days will get tough.
That being said, there are a few things that are certain to make your time abroad the best it can be:
Don’t Freak Out When Things Go Wrong
One thing that we actually can guarantee you is that things will go wrong.
All. The. Time.
You are travelling to a new place, maybe many new places. You are going to be in a new city with a new culture. Many things about daily life will simply be different. When you are making plans to explore the city, plans for a weekend trip, anything you might want to do – remember that it may not end up going the way you planned. If you are a person who prefers to have every hour of your day planned out perfectly – get ready for a change. You might think you are going to the premier of a hot new movie – and it turns out to be in a tiny café that is impossible to find, screening an indie film against a brick wall with only 3 people watching. You might get lost on the way there and never make it. What’s the best way to cope with these situations?
We think you need to:
Laugh at Yourself
So what do you do when your plans get messed up, you get on the wrong bus and are hopelessly lost, anything or everything goes wrong during the course of the day? You just have to laugh at yourself. I didn’t make it through a single day abroad without messing at least one thing up. I once ordered carrot juice on accident because I didn’t know the Arabic word for carrot, I thought it was strawberry. I would get laughed at by cab drivers when my broken Arabic wasn’t quite good enough for the directions I needed to give. I would go to an event and not be able to catch a cab home to save my life.
The thing about being abroad is that you will stick out. You will be the different one in the crowd, no matter what. And when you aren’t familiar with the culture, the streets, the language, you will make mistakes. And that’s okay! Learning from your mistakes, and especially learning to laugh at them, is a part of the study abroad process. So try not to take yourself too seriously – it’s much more fun that way.
This advice comes with an important caveat – only say yes to something if it is SAFE and LEGAL to do.
Now, saying yes is simply a suggestion to try new things, and make the most of different opportunities. At certain points, study abroad might be really really really hard. You might want to fall into a routine of things that are familiar – eat at McDonald’s more than is normal, or find a piece of home. We think this is a perfectly fine thing to do, as long as it doesn’t become your routine while abroad. Being in a new country is the perfect time to say YES to all sorts of different possibilities that come your way. Maybe a last second excursion, maybe a weekend trip, maybe a concert or festival happening. So once you get abroad, try to make the most of each opportunity you get!
Most of all, make sure to HAVE FUN.
Tiffany – Peer Advisor