I studied abroad in Cheltenham, England and it was nothing short of an amazing experience. I saw things I have only ever dreamed of, meet new people and learned about new cultures. Although I had the best time ever, I must admit I had some fears before boarding my flight to a new country. Don’t leave home worried, there is always a way to rationalize and turn your fear into productivity to ensure you have an amazing trip. In this post, I will help you overcome your study abroad fears.
If you went away to a different state for college and have already experienced being away from home, you are a step ahead. But many college students, like myself, have never gone longer than a few weeks without visiting home or seeing family. I was so worried that I would miss my family (and my cat) everyday, and want to come home. The truth is, everyone experiences homesickness differently, but there are a few ways to help overcome it.
- Bring pictures of you with your family and friends and hang them on the wall.
- Call home. It really helps to hear your mom’s voice, or FaceTime your cat.
- Keep busy. When you are traveling the world it is hard to think about missing home.
Above all, remember that your family will always be there when you get home. You can tell them all about your amazing experiences when you get back (or give them a call). This is a once in a lifetime opportunity, so take advantage of it and have a great time.
A big fear of mine before leaving for England was running out of money and not being able to travel or buy what I wanted (food, mostly.) It is so important to think about finances a few months before you go so that you can budget, save, and prepare. Now that I am here and following my budget, I am not worried about if I’ll run out. Here are a few tips to get your money in order and stop stressing.
- Make a budget. I sat down with my mom (Thanks mom!) and planned how much I would need per month including food and traveling to my dream destinations.
- Save. Based on your budget determine how much you need to save and put it into a savings account.
- Work. Get a job if you don’t already have one, and save part of each check you get until you reach the amount you need.
- Get a travel credit card. This is a must-have! Not only is a credit card necessary for emergencies it will help you save money in the long run! If you use your US debit card abroad, you will pay massive fees. With travel credit cards, I have Bank Americard, there is no foreign transaction fee, and it is easy to pay of on the Bank of America app.
The big question before I left was “How do I fit my whole closet in a bag that can only weigh 50 lbs?” The answer was to pack light. I’m sure you have heard it before. By now you are looking for other ways to bring every hoodie and pair of sweatpants in your closet with you. But it’s true; you will have to leave some clothes behind. By packing a capsule wardrobe, you will have all the clothes you need, and make lugging around your bag a whole lot easier.
The fear of not fitting in with your peers is scary. Who wants to be lonely when they are 5,000 miles away from home? Despite the fact that you will be the new kid, there are ways to ensure you don’t feel uncomfortable in those social situations. Your study abroad experience won’t be as fun if you don’t meet local students.
- Be friendly to your classmates and roommates. It might seem self explanatory, but if you say hello first and greet them with a smile, they are more likely to invite you to eat lunch with them, or go to their party tonight.
- Participate in class or dorm activities. My flat has parties at least once a week, and those of us who go and hang out are much closer to the British kids in our building. Don’t hide out in your room; you won’t make any great memories there! Trust me.
- Talk about your hometown with your peers. The majority of my conversations in the beginning of my trip consisted of different foods in America, variations of weather, and the upcoming election. Your peers will always be interested in hearing about your hometown, and what you think of theirs. Once you have these conversations it is easier to hang out in a regular setting.
What other fears do you have?
*Brooke’s blog was originally published on her personal blog, Daily Life with B. You can check out Brooke’s other blogs here!
About the Author – Brooke Grasso, Fall 2016 BCA Cheltenham, England Student
Hello! My name is Brooke and I am a journalism student at the University of La Verne, hoping to spend my life writing about food, creativity and travel. Between classes and work, I sit behind my computer screen and type away (while simultaneously petting my cat and snacking on cheese.) I created my Daily Life with B blog as a place to keep my daily activities, crafts and meals. I’m happy to share them with you!