What Are These Pre-Study Abroad Emotions?

Jenna Hughes Headshot
Jenna Hughes
May 26, 2024
looking out a window of an airplane; one can see part of the airplane's wing and the blue sky

Salut, mes amis! 

My name is Jenna Hughes and I am currently studying abroad in Paris this summer (well not yet…I’m in the airport, technically).

While waiting to board my plane, I have a lot of emotions: fear, happiness, anxiety, sadness, gratitude and any other emotion you could think of! I like to call it the 'ice cream sundae' of emotions, if you will. But why are my emotions so complicated?

I have literally dreamt of going to France ever since I was 12 years old, so this study abroad is my dream come true. But not everything has been sunshine and rainbows, especially as a confused first-generation college student.

To study abroad is a great accomplishment but it comes with work. There’s about a gazillion things to do. You have to think about the flight, the money, the transportation, the housing and so many other things, that it can seem overwhelming. Not to mention the mental preparation you have to do! The wondering about how the metro works or the best times to visit certain sites can be exhausting!

But remember: It is completely NORMAL to go through a whole range of emotions! (because I sure did!)

Everyone is different and everyone has different emotions, so there is not any specific advice I can give you. However, knowing that someone else has also gone through the same thing can be comforting. So here are some situations in which I was caught in the whirlwind of pre-study abroad emotions!

Fear: This one is pretty common! I mean, you're going to a new place all by yourself, why wouldn’t you be scared? I know for myself I was especially scared because I felt like I had no life experience. Because I am a first-generation college student, I had very few people I could ask for advice. No one else I knew had gone through anything like this, so I had to figure out a lot of my own. It is completely normal to feel like you have no idea what you are doing (whether you are a first-gen or not). Don’t be afraid to ask your advisors for help! That’s why they are there after all. Talking with them and asking questions, even if you think they are silly can really diminish those fears!

Gratitude: Frankly, I am still shocked. I am ecstatic that I get to go on this trip, so I often feel very thankful/proud of my accomplishment. Leading up to the trip, I would have moments where I would be doing my average day-to-day life things and then think, ‘Wow! I am going to France this summer.’ Be sure to take a moment and bask in your accomplishment. That doesn’t make you arrogant, it actually makes you humble. By recognizing how much hard work you put in to get where you are now, you will be able to not only be thankful for what is thrown your way, but you will also be more resilient and open-minded. After all, your study abroad experience is YOUR experience and it will be unlike any other.

Sadness: This one is almost embarrassing for me to say, but yes I also felt sad. Summer is typically my time to catch up with my friends back home, work a bit and go on fun trips in the states. By going to France for 7 weeks, I am going to miss some of that. But it is always better to miss home than miss out on the world. Your friends, your family and home will be waiting for you when you get back and I am positive that they will all be excited to hear your amazing stories.

Anxiety: This emotion is arguably the WORST emotion to have in my not-so-professional opinion. Anxiety is the emotion that I think I have struggled with the most and it seems to be never ending. Not only do you have the fear of things you don’t know, but you also start questioning the things that you do know. For me, I have this fear I am going to land in Paris and not find the taxi station, even though I have studied French for 7 years and think I can find a sign that says ‘Le Taxi.’ If you are struggling with some pre-trip jitters, first I want to say I am sorry because anxiety sucks. However, you can get through this! Just take one step at a time. Just worry about finding your gate or getting through customs. By breaking it down into small tasks, it will seem less stressful and keep your anxiety at bay. 

Happiness: Of course you are going to feel happy and you should! Embrace it, enough said. 

So whether or not you have experienced these emotions like I have, remember that it is ok to feel conflicted in your emotions (and you are not the only one). Studying abroad will be a great experience but that doesn’t mean it is always easy. And even if you feel completely alone and seem to have no one to go to for advice, don’t shy away from asking questions. Your advisors, professors, friends, and family all want to see you succeed and they are all going to try and support you along the way. Plus, you’ve got this!

Bisous, XOXO

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Jenna Hughes Headshot

Jenna Hughes

My name is Jenna Hughes and I am student at Miami University in Ohio. I have dreamt of going to France since I was 13, so I am excited to go this summer! My favorite things are reading French books, getting coffee with friends and family and my dog.

2024 Summer 1
Home University:
Miami University
Francophone Studies
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