So I have to apologize first and foremost for being so behind on my posts. As the title reads, the past few weeks have been a little all over the place with midterms and traveling. I am now officially halfway through the semester and I wanted to talk about the struggles and self-realizations that future students might experience while studying abroad. It’s important to remember that not everything will go perfectly. Life abroad is usually even crazier than at your home university. But, at the same time, life abroad is supposed to be that way. It’s a learning experience and a chance to grow as an adult, to embrace your newfound independence.
Here are a few things (actually just two) I want to share about dealing with the downsides of studying abroad:
- You might feel overwhelmed and lost sometimes.
Being in a new country, having to focus on school and traveling and new relationships, is difficult. It takes some adjustment and recognition that everything doesn’t just click into place. You might get lost on the metro system (I’ve definitely missed a few stops before). You might not know what to do with your free time (I have more than I know what to do with since I’m used to non-stop classes and work). You might feel a pressure to always be doing something cool, going somewhere fun, or “making the most” of your life abroad. Trust me, relaxing and taking an afternoon off to nap or watch a movie provides a “reset” moment so that you don’t get burned out too quickly.
2. Making new friends can take some time (and work).
If you’re like me, you might take a bit longer to form true friendships. In fact, I can only recently say that I feel like I found my “group,” people I am comfortable asking to go hang out or spend some time with around the city. That isn’t to say that I don’t spend time with other students. Everyone I have met so far through DIS have been very nice and my RC in particular spends lots of time together going to different events or having a Tuesday wine night in the common room to talk about life.
Yet, there can still be a sense of anxiety around making friends. The age old “do I fit in?” “do they like me?” questions might come up. What you might not understand, is that almost everyone else feels the same way. The group of people who “instantly” clicked and are together all the time, also have worries about making friends. Before the travel break, I attended a DIS care team event at a local bakery. There we had fika and talked about the concerns students had (this was done anonymously). Surprisingly, a lot of students from my RC were there too. Even those people who I had thought all along were fitting in perfectly shared the same concerns. In this sense, try not to judge others too quickly. We are all students trying to adjust to living abroad and everyone will struggle with something before you settle in your new home.
On a happier note, here are some pictures from my visit to Tyresta National Park, which was a great stress reliever and break from the city. I hope that any students looking to go abroad could learn something from this rambling post and take the chance on such a great program (or study abroad in general).