From boarding the plane to starting your classes, the first week abroad can be stressful. You’re overcoming jetlag and settling into your housing, which can be daunting. Not only that, but you may also be studying in a place where English is not the first language, and you have to get used to talking in a language you may or may not know. All of these things are a lot for study abroad students and they’re not easy because you’re thrown into the action once you come off that flight. During these past few days, I’ve had to learn how to be okay that I may not be able to communicate with every Parisian on the street. Also, the metro. I have a few tips to navigating through the first couple of weeks on any study abroad journey.
- Get out of your comfort zone.
This is one of the things I have problems with myself because I would rather be in my bed not being bothered. However, study abroad is not about sitting in your bed all day hoping for the best. It’s about taking those risks. If I hadn’t come out of my comfort zone, I would not be in the city of Paris. Let alone outside of the United States. Go out and eat alone at a café. At first, you may feel weird sitting by yourself, but you’ll be thankful for the experience. Go and meet new people. Explore those areas that many have never seen or talked about. You never know what you may find.
- Don’t be afraid to go out and explore., and make friends along the way
Sometimes the thing that we fear the most are the things we need to do. As stated in my last point, don’t be afraid to go out and explore. Last Saturday, I had the chance to go see La tour Eiffel and have some fun exploring the city of Paris. At first, I was hesitant about going out with people I barely knew and didn’t really want to go out. Except, I took a chance, and I had an amazing time. Not only did I see one of the most beautiful symbols of France, but I made a few friends along the way. If I had stayed in my dorm, then I would not have the experiences or memories that I have today. With every study abroad journey, there are some bumps and hurdles. However, if you have a few friends along for the ride, your most fearful night can turn to your most exciting.
- It’s okay if you don’t get everything right. Be patient with yourself.
This is one point I will be learning throughout my study abroad journey: that I may not get everything right. When we make mistakes were very hard on ourselves because we want these experiences to be perfect. Nonetheless, those mistakes can turn into an adventure you’ll never forget. For example, riding the Paris metro system is a hard process at first and it gets easier the more you ride it. Just like learning a foreign language or driving a car. For me, it took me a minute to become comfortable in riding it myself. Now that I am, I can ride the metro to almost any destination I need to go without worry because I’ve practiced. Like I said these things take time and practice. Another thing is to be patient with yourself. If you don’t get things right the first time, be patient and try again. Having patience is one of the best things you can do for yourself, especially when navigating another country. It teaches you to slow things down and give yourself more time to do what’s necessary. I gave myself more patience by making sure that I have more than enough time to go through the metro and get to my destinations. Because of that, I don’t have to worry about being late and getting to my classes on time.
All of these tips are things that take time to learn and patience to endure through your study abroad adventure. With these tips, it has helped me tremendously through this process and getting through these first few weeks. I’ve had to learn along the way that everything happens for a reason and things take time. Get out of your comfort zone and don’t let fear keep you from your adventure.
The journey is never ending. There's always gonna be growth, improvement, adversity; you just gotta take it all in and do what's right, continue to grow, continue to live in the moment.
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<p>Bonjour Mes Amies! My name is Zoey Tyson-Taylor and I’m a senior studying at Hollins University, majoring in Business and History. Don’t worry, I know it’s a weird combo! I am studying abroad in Paris this Fall of 2021. I am so excited to be sharing my journey with you all! My favorite things are my family, language learning, and good food. But my one true love is ice cream…</p>