Studying abroad may sound like a student’s fantasy, but the truth is, it is nowhere as perfect as it may seem - it definitely is exciting, but it is also daunting. It is when you experience studying abroad that you realize that it is not as easy as it seems. This, of course, doesn’t mean that it isn’t incredible and worth it - it is even more than this. My year abroad was the best year of my life even though there were obstacles to overcome. All great things, I’ve come to the conclusion, come with some obstacles. However, every student that studies abroad goes through similar or completely the same issues, and the majority of us are able to deal with them, and so will you.
There are four stages in dealing with these problems: excitement, irritation, homesickness and, finally, assimilation.
The excitement is the one you feel right after you get to your destination. You are absolutely enchanted and amazed by all these new things that are in front of you: different buildings, different fashion style, and even different air. Everything and everyone is suddenly incredibly interesting to you. One of the silly things I was amazed with was the number of air conditioning units in the US. I loved it… at first.
However, your initial excitement gradually turns into irritation. The routines of people, their behavior, even culture start to annoy you. Your neck starts to hurt from all the air conditioning that you were initially impressed with. Although this seems bad enough, homesickness suddenly hits you.
The lowest point of a year abroad,or at least the lowest point of my year abroad, is when homesickness comes into play. You are already on edge with all this foreign stuff, and then you start missing your home. You feel alone, cut off from your family and friends, and you feel like no one understands you. When this happened to me I seriously thought about going back home, but due to my stubbornness, I, thankfully, decided to push through. I say thankfully because it is right at this moment that your year actually begins.
Assimilation is the last step in coping with studying abroad. You come to terms with your surroundings, you start to understand them, and you finally incorporate them into your daily life. By now, you have met people, you have found a group of friends you could potentially become close with, and everything starts looking up. As the year keeps going, your experience keeps getting better. By the end of the year it is so amazing that you beg for a few more weeks there. However, you do leave, but you leave with a once-in-a-lifetime experience, one you won’t let your friends ever forget.
Studying abroad is one of the best things that you could experience in your student life. I strongly recommend you do it. You will probably have to overcome these as well, but just remember, you are not alone, we’ve all been through it… Why couldn’t you?
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