The first thing anyone tells you when you mention that you will be studying abroad is, “You are going to have so much fun!” Don’t get me wrong, I don’t doubt this, but I kind of want to scream. My to-do list is never ending, my anxiety has been at an all time high, I have three flights to prepare for, and I have repacked my bags countless times, but yeah. So much fun.
Beginning the study abroad process was extremely stressful, but as the departure date gets closer, I have found ways to manage the fear and tame the ever fluttering butterflies that have taken up permanent residence in my stomach. Conceptualizing this experience as a real thing is difficult, especially if you have never been abroad before. Traveling Europe has always been a distant, far-fetched dream, but since my acceptance into the Berlin Metropolitan and Urban Studies program, everything has become real. Still, I have struggled with realizing the realistic aspects of the entire experience.
In order to bridge the gap between fantasy and reality, I began putting my to-do list into terms and scenarios that I am familiar with. Housing accommodations in a foreign country seem intimidating, but once I realized that I already choose where to live each semester in Texas, this task became easier to tackle. Travel opportunities seemed impossible, especially since there are so many different places to visit in just Berlin alone. Instead of succumbing to the stress, I approached travel with my knowledge of budgeting. I created a list of must-do excursions, researched the costs, and made a plan for what I can afford and what I will have time for. This plan made travel seem more realistic, and I know that I will be less overwhelmed upon arrival.
I also realized that it is often difficult for me to complete a task if I know nothing about it. Getting started is the hardest part, so I made myself research other daunting requirements, such as passports and visas. My new knowledge about travel documents formed the foundation that allowed me to get started on these requirements. Once I received my passport and saw that horrible headshot immortalized (for 10 dreadful years) on the laminated pages, everything became more and more real. With each task I completed, I felt more confident in my soon approaching journey.
In my mind, it made sense to create lists and research aspects that scared me, but this process can also demystify the entire experience. To keep myself excited, I am researching the non-academic and non-governmental requirements of the trip. Recently, I’ve been listening to podcasts that tell stories about German mythology. I have also been keeping up with latest European fashion trends and popular television shows. I am hoping that this early “research” will make my immersion into Berlin’s culture more smooth, though I know the task will be more difficult once I arrive.
I know that this journey will be a positive one and that my time abroad will be one of the best experiences of my young adult life, but I cannot help the anxiety that still bubbles inside of me. Instead of suppressing these feelings, I have found that it is important to find ways to manage them. Ultimately, this experience will force me to not succumb to my fears but to rather embrace the butterflies.
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Hallo! My name is Kassidy Witt, and I am a senior political science major at Trinity University in San Antonio, TX. I moved around the United States a lot growing up, yet my travel bug is still not content. I love adventure and I am a huge history nerd, so I am beyond excited to study in Berlin this fall!