Making The Most Of Your Study Abroad Destination
The time leading up to your study abroad is a bit like being in an online dating romance with your country. You were first drawn in by its witty profile, the beautiful landscapes, amazing culture. Then after seeing the photos, you were in love. You can’t stop thinking about the city you’re going to and imagining all the fantastic things you be doing in it.
Then the day comes to finally meet the person behind the computer screen, to step foot in slice of heaven you have been dreaming of for months. Unfortunately, it’s probably not quite the same affect as you thought it would be.
Turns out your country mislead you on a few things. They didn’t tell you it would be noisy or that trash wasn’t handled in the most responsible way. They didn’t tell you that you don’t have the picture perfect view from every window in the city. You think you’re expectations were to high, but really you just put them in the wrong things.
Your study abroad destination may not always fit the image you had imagined in your head, but that doesn’t mean you should let that ruin your trip! Like I always say, when life gives you lemons hold on to them because they might go well with dinner.
Transitioning into a new city is rough for even an experienced traveler. Combine that with disappointment in your new home for the next few months and you have a dangerous recipe for a bad trip. So what do you need to do if you don’t feel like your destination is up to par with your mental images?
- First, you need to erase all your expectations. I know it’s hard but get rid of them all. Expect absolutely nothing and be amazed by everything that does happen.
- Second, find five things you do love about your destination now that you’re here. Whether it be how much you love the dog walkers everywhere, or the fact that you drink tea there every morning, find something you love.
- Third, talk about it! You surely aren’t the only person feeling that way and talking it out with others will help you realize you’re not alone.
- Finally, find reasons why all the things that drive you crazy will benefit you in the long run. Sure they don’t recycle but that makes you appreciate it in your country much more. Maybe it will even inspire a passion you never knew you had! Make something positive out of it.
The moral of the story is you can’t predict what your trip will be like at every turn. But you are in control of how you handle it. A positive attitude can go a long way, even when you feel hopeless.
While your trip may not play out like what you imagined before hand, if you stay positive and give it a chance I guarantee that reality will turn out being even better than your fantasies.
Hayley is a senior, public relations major at Park University in Missouri. She is currently spending a semester abroad in Buenos Aires, Argentina where she is learning to be independent and adaptable. You can follow her adventures and hear more advice on her blog Classy in Argentina or follow her on twitter @hayleykiah.
Feeling homesick, experiencing culture shock, or just not enjoying your time abroad? Check out Culture Shock, Homesickness, And The “Aha Moment”.
If you have any other questions or comments please feel free to leave them below and I’ll get back to you!