Mantras & More: The Overlooked Piece in Preparing for Travel Abroad

Alia McLaughlin headshot
Alia McLaughlin
February 23, 2024

          Passport, wallet, suitcase, camera, check. Like many people, including myself, I prepare for big endeavors months in advance. Steps such as gathering documents for obtaining a VISA, packing the necessities, and searching the best places for excursions become the forefront of our minds. Even three days away from my departure, I still found myself triple checking my packing list and ensuring I have every copy of a document. However, I realized I forgot the importance of a positive mindset. 

          Therefore, I created three simple mantras that not only can I easily remember, but I can utilize before and during my time abroad. I also hope this blog post can offer a sense of solidarity to others who are studying abroad or are currently studying abroad or traveling.

Not everything needs to be set in stone, planned, and perfect

          There’s a notion that traveling abroad means that every minute must be spent doing something super extravagant or adventurous. While I am a big fan of pursuing new activities and making the most of my trips, I find that letting spontaneity run its course has resulted in my funniest or most cherished memories. Even hammocking in a tree or browsing at a random store has led to conversations that I still remember to this day. 

The familiar will be there when you return

          FOMO, whether we like it or not, is real. Especially for people traveling or studying abroad for a longer duration, it’s easy to ruminate on events going on at home that you’re not present for. However, when you return, you can always come back into your daily routine. Meeting new people and experiencing a unique part of the world is one that you can’t redo. What helps me when I am away from home for a long time is to bring stationary or a list of contacts. I found that letter writing and scheduled, consistent face times help me feel not as disconnected from loved ones, while still feeling like I can be independent and experience my own journey abroad. 

Keep an open mind!

          This is cliche, and probably the hardest mantra to follow. When forced into a new environment, the first instinct is to scramble for signs of familiarity. What is a store most similar to Dunkin Donuts or Target? Finding the balance between home and the area out of your comfort zone is worthwhile for both growth and discovering that you CAN do NEW things. You can start off small like trying a new dish or conversing with a local about their recommended, most cherished dish in the area.  The more you do that out of your comfort zone, the easier it becomes, even if it doesn’t exactly go the way you planned. It’ll also make for a great story!

            Keeping these mantras in mind is a process, but I believe that setting a stable and positive attitude will be beneficial for the health and general experience of being abroad. It is also an area that is often overlooked and forgotten, but necessary to talk about. I haven’t started my study abroad experience yet, but I try to use these mantras for new chapters in my life, and I feel that they will be applicable for my time abroad.  

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Alia McLaughlin headshot

Alia McLaughlin

Hi! I'm Alia and I am from Park City, UT. I love meeting new people and hearing about their stories, yummy food, running, and learning new languages. I'm psyched to study abroad and I hope to continue these hobbies and try some new ones too!

2024 Spring
Home University:
St. Olaf College
Political Science
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