Open when you're feeling overwhelmed

Gracie Weinstein
February 28, 2022

It’s going to happen at one time or another, sadly. You’re gone for two to four months, thousands of miles away in another country across the world with very few commonalities of anything you’ve ever known — I’m probably not helping at this point. However, I’ve always believed that the best things in life are almost always on the other side of fear — discomfort can be a really good thing. Sometimes, though, it can all catch up to you at once, and it never really does so at the right time. I have a good grasp on life here now and I’m not feeling my emotions at such extremes anymore, but I also still get overwhelmed. I know that everyone is different and there are a lot of things that you can do to help calm yourself down, but I think I’ve managed pretty well here. My biggest piece of advice, as general as it might be, is to look at the bigger picture — take a step back. Training your mind to think like this not only helps when you feel overwhelmed while abroad but projects itself into so many other situations. My point is is that we always like to talk about how time flies and we can’t believe that we’re already juniors… this too will fly by. You can choose how you want to look at that — in a good or bad way — but no matter what you do your time abroad will come and go fairly quickly. What most helps me is talking to my friends and roommate about our future plans and trips we have set. Using trips and events as a somewhat landmark date really helps me to calm my mind down and all of a sudden, this trip really doesn’t seem all that long. 

Now, I don’t want to advise you to let time go by and wish that this trip would end already. All I mean is that time isn’t something you can do much about. You can’t extend it and you can’t rush it. My roommate once told me that at one point, our time here is just going to run out and our time with our family and friends will come. It can be sad, and it’s okay if you’re sad, but this feeling is not permanent. There is quite literally an expiration date for this emotion. May 13, for those of us in Italy

In terms of literal, instant solutions for when you’re feeling like this, I usually call someone. As much as you might want to sit in your bed, wallowing in this emotion, try to lighten the mood a little bit and find some comfort. The circumstances you’re in while abroad aren’t easy for anyone to handle; so, trying to stay ahead of this feeling before it gets too heavy is really important. It’s normal to be sad, or get a little freaked out from time to time, but there’s so many ways you can bring yourself back to reality. You just have to find what best works for you. Netflix and Youtube also help in my opinion. They can give your mind a break and for a few moments, you’ve totally forgotten where you are or that you were overwhelmed to begin with. 

Staying busy can be really helpful in being able to distract yourself from feeling too overwhelmed, but it can also add stress if you don’t take time in between to breathe and take care of yourself. Take some me time, whatever that means to you. When I’ve felt stressed or overwhelmed recently, I’ve been going for walks around Milan with my friends. Fresh air is always good and seeing the life and culture I’m surrounded by reminds me of how special it is that I’m actually here — that maybe this whole thing isn’t that scary. Romanticize your life as much as possible while you’re abroad: you’re living someone else’s, and your own, dream. It’s incredibly tempting to let anxiety and being overwhelmed take the good away from the situation and your current circumstances while abroad, but after all of this time spent on getting here, you might as well put up the fight to enjoy every last second. You do not want to waste it. 

Even though I feel like I’ve been abroad for a century now, because of all of the trips and memories I’ve made, it’s crazy that it’s somehow March. I still have quite some time here, but to think I'm almost halfway done with my semester here in Italy is beyond weird to me. I’ve spent years dreaming about this trip and months preparing for it, and now i’m here and my time is already running out. The same will happen for you - maybe it already is - so be sure to do everything possible while you’re given the chance — and maybe a little bit more. 

This feeling is not permanent. That is the most important thing to remember; like I said, there is an expiration date, but use that as motivation to push through that feeling. It’s completely normal to feel overwhelmed and anxious about being gone for so long and so far away, but I urge you to challenge yourself to overcome this feeling and deny it the ability to take any part of this time away from you before it is too late. Before you know it, you’ll be on a flight home. Soak in everything around you while you can and ensure you don’t leave on that plane with any wasted time. 


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Gracie Weinstein,

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Gracie Weinstein

<p>Hello, my name’s Gracie Weinstein and I am a junior studying political science and journalism. Since I was a kid, I’ve always loved to write and have always tried to use my writing to tell stories with others about some of the best, or maybe worst, experiences in my life. I believe in the power of words and the ability it has to connect strangers with one another through their experiences, whether they are shared experiences or not. Writing humanizes people, and helps others relate to them — it cuts down on barriers such as physical appearances (how one’s life looks) and allows for strangers to understand each other. Whether or not those who read my work or see my posts have themselves studied abroad or plan to study abroad, documenting each scary, fun, jaw-dropping, or brand new experience I encounter is so special to share with them. I am very much looking forward to sharing my next few months abroad with others, and hopefully inspire them to make the same decision that I did. Ciao!</p>

2022 Spring
Home University:
Indiana University
Elmhurst, IL
Political Science
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