I may not be a study abroad or travel expert, but I do consider myself quite an expert on college. I have been at my university for three years, and I have been involved with almost everything possible at one point or another in my college career. For a semi-full list, you can look on my about me page, but I can say that it was a lot. Going to a university was about the experience for me, but, honestly, I am tired. It is time for a change and for me to follow my heart instead of my over practical mind. So studying abroad is my way of embracing the idea that I am my own person. However, it was not easy to leave everything I did behind, and I know you might be feeling the same way. Whether you’re studying abroad or leaving a job to travel or leaving your family to see the world, going away is terrifying! I am hoping this post will give a brief overview of how to ease the transition of doing everything to living at a slower pace.
- Realize you cannot do everything you do now while you are abroad: This may seem like common sense, but sometimes you think that you can keep running the club or oversee a project while you are out of the country. Stop now – you will ruin your experience overseas if you are constantly thinking about things back home! Stop, and hand the reins over to someone else.
- Speaking of handing the reins over, do it: I had a hard time leaving behind my officer positions and giving up control of clubs and organizations to others, but it is a sacrifice you must make. I was an executive officer in my sorority, and I knew that since I would not be here for the next semester, I needed to train someone else to take over. I found a sister that was similar to me in personality that I knew could handle my position. I found that this was the easiest way to find replacements for other positions in other organizations as well. You are more likely to completely let go and trust someone who reminds you of yourself.
- There are some things that you will hate leaving behind, but you will have to step away from them. For me, my job as a resident assistant was one of the hardest parts of leaving my university. I had been a RA for two years, and I loved my job, my co-workers, my supervisors, and most of all my residents. While everyone else was waiting on their acceptance letters for next year, I was stressed about registering for study abroad classes. I hated telling residents that asked where I would be working the next year that I would not be here. I worked in the first year building, and so many of them had been like my little brothers and sisters that year. I had to let go of my job and know that I was moving on to bigger and better things. Everyone was excited for me and supportive of my choice, but it took a while for me to accept it. My advice for this is to remember that you will have new and wonderful experiences and to savor every second of what you hate leaving behind.
- The last but probably the hardest thing for me to leave is my friends. I had to tell everyone, people in choir, my sisters, residents, professors, friends from clubs and classes, every person that I was going abroad when they asked about next year plans. Sometimes they would forget, and I would tell them again. Some people love talking about studying abroad and want to sound cool, but I was still getting used to the idea during the school year, so I was not too worried about sounding cool. It was nice sometimes, but people usually ask the same questions about where I was studying and what I was studying and why I was going for a year. I understand now that it was annoying to me because I wanted to be excited with them and assure them that I would be there in class with them or hanging out with them. Point blank- I am going to miss them. I know that I will miss the late now Sonic, crazy sisterhood moments, and singing with my hilarious friends, but, like I said before, the memories I will make I hope will be equally as awesome.
Well, now you know you are not alone. I love my university and every opportunity and friend it has given me, but I know it is time to experience something new. Enjoy your time and mourn the last time you do something till you get back but know that when you leave your study abroad university, you might feel the same way.