It's Just a To-Do List...No Reason to be Scared

Aliya Sayani square headshot
Aliya Sayani
August 14, 2022
nice predeparture countdown

14 days and 16 hours before I’m in Nice. 

41 items on my Notes app to-do list. 

A combined 102 hours spent in the last 3 months reading “My UNFORGETTABLE Study Abroad Experience” posts on Reddit. 

The anticipation is so real. 


I still remember the day I decided to study abroad. 

Fall semester Junior year, I’m sitting in my university’s library at 11:30 PM, working on a Business Analytics project with a friend. A project that just won’t seem to end. I’m frustrated. I’m tired. I close my laptop. My friend looks up and laughs. Allen feels the same but he’s a bit more of a trooper than I am. A bit more of a risk-taker too. He’s going to Nice next Fall to study abroad. He's leaving the comfort of our university, of our city, of his friends for an UNFORGETTABLE Study Abroad Experience™. 

I’ve entertained the idea a bit. Wearing linens in the cobblestone streets of Nice, eating gelato in Milan, clubbing in Barcelona. Or whatever people do in Europe. But it all feels too big and scary. And extremely expensive. Little old Aliya from a single-mom household in Bedford, Texas surely couldn’t afford linens in the cobblestone streets of Nice. Still, I utter the words out loud. 

“So like, how do you go about signing up for study abroad?” 

Allen is pleasantly surprised. He jumps out of his chair and starts hopping around. “You’re thinking of going?! You really wanna study abroad?”

Allen’s excitement is contagious. 


Over the next few weeks I meet with my study abroad advisor, a kind and very patient woman named Sabrina. Sabrina answers every question, directs me to every resource, and entertains my dreams of the cobblestone streets. When I don’t understand parts of the process or get anxious about the financial burden of studying abroad, she emails me within minutes with another scholarship opportunity she digs up. 

Sabrina’s willingness to help a first gen, low income student is what really gets the ball rolling on my study abroad dreams. 


Flash forward to the end of Spring semester Junior year. My courses abroad have been approved, I’ve followed the steps to register with EEF, and I've applied to almost half a dozen scholarships. I feel pretty okay. I get anxious quite often when I think about having to pay $1,200 for a plane ticket or $40 extra dollars a month for an international SIM card, but I try not to let it dampen my spirit or excitement. 

That’s one thing I’ve really had to come to terms with during this whole process. I’m gonna have to spend some money to get this experience. Some things are going to go wrong. I’m gonna have to ask for help even if I feel like I can handle it on my own (I can’t). That’s kinda the thing about us. First-gen students often feel like we have to do it all and have it all figured out with no guidance. Sabrina tells me this is impossible, that I have to ask for help even if I feel burdensome. 

I guess I'll just have to trust her. I mean, she’s gotten me this far, right?


By the time I have finished writing this blog post, I have 14 days and 14 hours until I’m in Nice. I even added an item to my Notes app to-do list.


42. Figure out how European people do laundry.


In between the whole laundry thing, figuring out if my flat iron is dual voltage, and mustering up the courage to go into my creepy attack to get my luggage bags, I still have A LOT to do. Sometimes it feels like the to-do list is never gonna end. But then I vent a little to Allen, delete the last 5 completely unnecessary things I’ve added to the list, and everything feels a little more manageable. 


In 14 days and 14 hours, I am going to be living in a different country. And I have a feeling it’s going to be UNFORGETTABLE. 


Miss you already. Talk soon. 

More Blogs From This Author

View All Blogs
Aliya Sayani square headshot

Aliya Sayani

Hi everyone! Studying abroad in Nice specifically has been a dream of mine since I was a junior in high school.

It's very important to me to write from the perspective of a first gen and low income student. I want to provide y'all with some sense of comfort and togetherness during what might be a super exciting but potentially scary or overwhelming process. I just want my experiences and advice to mean something to students like me.

I hope y'all enjoy the things I share!


2022 Fall
Home University:
Trinity University
Bedford, TX
Explore Blogs