Study Abroad Advice to Myself

This week I’m back in San Diego and enjoying the sunshine and seeing my students. Before a few left for their study abroad adventures, I was able to see them off. Hanging out with them and hearing their concerns and excitement, I contemplated lessons I learned abroad and my personal advice resulting from my own challenges and triumphs. As I read my own words of advice, I recognize that I need to heed these personal words of wisdom in my life right now:

  • Remember that trials are normal and they will pass

I’ve talked about the hostility stage before but it is one of those things that I have to remind myself about often. Moving is hard. Language barriers are hard. Making new friends is hard. But it’s all worth it and it does get easier.

  • Say “yes” more than you say “no”

The only real regrets I have from my study abroad experience are when I was too afraid to do something and turned down an opportunity. I personally wish I had said “yes” a lot more and not let fear keep me from riding public transportation alone or

  • Revisit your goals often

I wanted to perfect my Italian while I was studying abroad in Italy but I would regularly get side tracked and have days that I would solely speak in English. I found I had to keep coming back to my goals, remembering what I wanted to get out of my time abroad.

  • Take time for yourself and reflect on your experience

One of the best things I did while studying abroad was do things alone. I went to the market alone, visited museums alone, and would find beautiful spots throughout Rome where I could sit and read or journal. The time alone made me appreciate being abroad so much more. In those moments it wasn’t about the people I was with, but rather the place where I was living.

  • Write it all down because you’ll do so much more than you’ll ever remember

My first time abroad in 2002 I journaled the entire time. Ten years later, I am so grateful for those journals. Without them I probably wouldn’t remember the day that I missed the bus to Cinque Terre or the time my roommate washed her underwear in our bidet.

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