Mentally Preparing for Study Abroad

Ella Farrell headshot
Ella Farrell
January 23, 2024

As someone who always wanted to study abroad but was intimidated by the thought of it, I made the whole thing out to be something that only existed in my daydreams. I never really thought that I would really take the steps to make a semester abroad a reality. Now that I have been accepted into a program and am gearing up for my departure, here are my four best pieces of advice for anyone who is considering studying abroad. 

Get visual

Before making the decision to study abroad, it can be helpful to take a step back and think about what you want to get out of the experience. The summer before I applied to my program, I did a lot of journaling, pinterest-boarding, and general daydreaming. This may seem silly, but getting clarity on what you’ll want to get out of your semester abroad can help you narrow down your options before you start taking real life steps. I highly recommend journaling, but even sitting down and mapping out a pinterest board can be a great way to visualize what a semester abroad might look like for you.

Find a friend

The study abroad process can seem daunting. Depending on the program and your home school, there can be a lot of paperwork, applications, and logistics to sort through as you prepare. I found it helpful to find someone who I could talk to about all my study abroad related thoughts. This could be a parent, advisor, or trusted friend. I went through my study abroad preparations at the same time as one of my close friends. Although we are headed off to different countries, we were able to bounce ideas off of each other and generally geek out about studying abroad. 

Leave your comfort zone

A semester abroad is inherently out of a lot of people’s comfort zones. Moving thousands of miles from home to a brand new country where you may not speak the language is intimidating, for sure. But, it is important to embrace the discomfort that may come with the experience. Travel has the power to change lives and perspectives, and a semester abroad is the perfect opportunity to adventure outside of your comfort zone. I made the decision to study abroad on my own, without the company of my close friends from my university. This way, I am forced to leave my social bubble and make new connections while abroad. I urge anyone on the fence about going alone to take the plunge and trust yourself! 

Trust your gut

Speaking of trust, be sure to listen to your gut. Whether you are choosing a program, arranging travel, or even deciding to study abroad at all, it is important to pay attention to what your instincts are telling you. It is easy to let external pressures bear down on you, but remember to breathe, take a few steps back, and assess from there. Where do you see yourself during the next semester? What are your goals? What is the best decision for you? 


Wherever you end up, I wish you the best of luck in your next adventure! Stay true to you, and above all, have fun!

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Ella Farrell headshot

Ella Farrell

Ciao! My name is Ella Farrell and I'm a junior at the University of Vermont, studying Public Communications and Film Studies. Outside of school, I love listening to music, doing yoga, documenting my little life, and traveling as much as possible. 

2024 Spring
Home University:
University of Vermont
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