As the days and weeks pass by quickly, I can’t help but feel unprepared to travel and live abroad next semester. My mind is scattered, distracted with the growing checklists and concerns. Some days I am more than excited for the opportunity to explore and experience life in another country, and other days I am overwhelmed and sad about being so far away from the places and people I love. In conversations with friends who are also studying abroad this upcoming semester, I have discovered I am not alone in this feeling.
Getting organized can quickly become overwhelming, as there are so many things that need to be done before I say my goodbyes and embark on an experience of a lifetime. But I have learned to take it one step at a time. It does not need to be all figured out right now. I will be studying abroad in Dublin, Ireland with a close friend of mine, and we regularly bring up our concerns and wonders. Questions like “What shoes are you bringing?” to “Do you think that we will be able to get into all the classes we want to?” surface in daily conversation. Often, we do not have the best answers for one another because there is a lot of uncertainty. But the uncertainty is just part of the process (whether we like it or not) and we do not need to know all the answers right now.
A lot of change is coming which can be both exciting and nerve-racking, but I have found that it is important to prioritize the community, growth, and rest that is available for me today. Amidst the responsibilities and stressors, I want to make the most of these last few weeks at my local college as I prepare to leave next semester. Once abroad, it will become imminent that I have a similar balance of productivity and rest. As I plan on investing time and energy in exploring the country, taking classes, and forming new friendships, I will also need time to reconnect with people from home and reflect on everything I am learning and experiencing. To accomplish this, I plan on capturing moments in writing and photographs so that the stories remain forever in my memory.
It is true that studying abroad feels uncomfortable, as it includes breaking out of our rhythm and routines and immersing ourselves into a culture and lifestyle that is entirely different from the ones we are accustomed to. But what an incredible opportunity that is! The integration of learning and traveling is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that will transform and shape our perspective on the world around us. It is true that the preparation leading up to studying abroad can be stressful, but I’m confident that it will be so worth it. For now, I’m taking it one step at a time, and before I know it, I will be learning, eating, reading, and living abroad!
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Hi! My name is Claire, and I am a sophomore at Hope College studying Creative Writing and Psychology. I am a lover of words, travel, and coffee. I am excited to share my unique experiences of studying abroad in Dublin with you!