Facing Fear as Reality Sets In

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Adah Freeman
January 15, 2023
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Journal Entry - November 11th 2022:

It is the beginning of November, and this morning was the one where the reality of study abroad finally set in. I cried twice. I smiled even more.

Today was my first virtual orientation session for my upcoming spring study abroad program, IES Abroad - Study in Granada, and with the voices of students and faculty in the program swimming in my ears, something clicked in my mind. What has long felt like a distant dream and an unreachable reality is finally materializing right in front of me and along with that, deep, indescribable emotions that I had only kept in the back of my mind up until now. Fear, excitement, dread of missing home, an uncontrolled level of giddiness…all of these are flooding my thoughts.

For so long, studying abroad has long been one of the crowning experiences I looked forward to during my time in college. Even when choosing which school to go to, one of my biggest priorities was that I would be able to spend at least a few months in another country. It always felt like something imaginary, however. It was something fun to think about but never something I thought I would actually be doing. Even during the recent months, when applying to study abroad has felt like a part time job, I still hadn’t quite registered that any of this was real.

I went into this orientation zoom call confident that I already had everything planned out. I have an idea of what classes I want, what cultural activities I am interested in, and an idea of who to ask for advice when looking for extracurriculars and other ways to engage. But being prepared for the logistical side of things is only half of the study abroad pre-departure process. As I learned from the emotions that bubbled up with the reality of studying abroad, traveling to another country for an entire semester takes mental and emotional preparation just as much as it requires technical planning. Many students talk about the impact of homesickness and loneliness while abroad, and I think these emotions can extend even further than the actual time you are abroad. Even months in advance, it is easy to start being overwhelmed with thoughts of what you might miss at home, what friends you won’t see for months, and worries of whether or not you will be able to adapt to a new language and culture.

Both fear of the unknown and fear of missing out are huge components in preventing many students from studying abroad. I know I personally struggle with these fears as well, and what motivates me is the excitement of getting out of my comfort zone and the opportunities to grow personally. I think that any student who has these fears and still decides to go through with applying has so much to be proud of already. There will still be many more challenges, but taking the first step is no small matter. As I look back over the last few months of preparation, I can’t help but be proud of how far I’ve come despite the fear of the unknown and the fear of missing out on my university experience back home.

With my study abroad program now only 10 weeks away, I know my excitement and fear will only grow. Alongside logistical preparations, emotional well-being has moved into my top priorities, and I know that through conversations with mentors and family members much wiser than I am, I will be able to jump fully into the study abroad experience with the support system I need to thrive and grow in a new environment.

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Headshot of Adah Freeman.

Adah Freeman

Hola! My name is Adah and I am a junior at North Carolina State University currently studying in Granada, Spain! Though my major is Biology, I have a passion for all things art and Spanish, and you can most likely find me sketching away during the late hours of the night. My current obsessions are gouache paints, crochet, and watching local birds! I'm so excited to share my time exploring Granada with all of you.

2023 Spring
Home University:
North Carolina State University
Biological Sciences
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