A year abroad is scary. And so it should be.
There’s no getting around it: there are a lot of unknowns and variables involved. You’re going to an unknown place for a year, where you likely won’t know anyone. You probably won’t have seen where you’re staying, and you don’t know what you’ll be doing there.
I’m a person who likes to plan, and have at least a vague idea of what’s going to happen. All the unknowns a year abroad entails is scary enough, and then you have to factor in all the things you need to do before you leave. Things like packing become more important than ever; it’s not as if you can just pop back home on the train to grab your straighteners if you forget them. But then you have to think about lugging god knows how many cases with you on your way to your destination, because you just HAD to bring those boots you got on sale. You’ve never worn them of course, but what if you want to whilst you’re away?
Depending on where you’re going, you might need a visa in order to get into the country. There’s appointments, visits to embassies, and all other kinds of admin, all before you even book your flight. Then you need to make sure you book the right flight to arrive on time in the right place, and remember to pay for that extra bag you wanted, as well as working out how to get to the airport.
There’s also a lot to do when you arrive. You have to make your accommodation liveable, and probably buy something that you forgot to bring despite your extensive packing. You need to sort out a local phone number, a bank account and all the other proper adult things you need to live in another country for a year. If you’re in a country that uses different currency to your own, you’ll probably spend a few days getting used to it. This will be when you realise that the $5 you spent on a pack of biscuits that seemed like a bargain is actually £4 and way more than you would pay back home.
Sometimes you’re also forced to think about what happens on your return. One of my concerns is where I’ll live in my final year at Essex. What do I do about housing? I can be considered for on campus housing but there’s no guarantee I’ll get it. And then if I don’t, who do I share a house with? Will I even be able to find a house to share?
It’s scary having so much responsibility. You’re in charge of your life now, and it’s mostly on you if it goes belly up. The actual chances of something going horrendously wrong are slim, but the fear is still there.
But it’ll be oh so worth it. I’ll meet new people, do amazing things, and experience a different country both academically and personally. I’m grateful that I have the opportunity to study abroad, even if it is scary. Because it’s not a bad thing to be scared. I think that fear is often a good thing, and that it can push you to do great and amazing things.
Do you have any fears or concerns about a year abroad? Drop them in the comments or send me a message!