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The Overwhelming Option of Studying Abroad

Ever since I was about twelve, I knew I wanted to study abroad. It just seemed like such a sweet deal — getting to live in a foreign country while learning. How could it get any better? Ever since, the only problem has been that I didn’t know where I wanted to go. There’s a whole world out there, so how could I possibly settle on just one?

I still have that problem — the problem of indecision. It affects every aspect of my life, but lately my indecision around study abroad hasn’t just been what country to go to. My indecision has spread to whether or not I should even go. The possibility of not studying abroad was never something I had considered until a few days ago.

But why? Why wouldn’t I want to study abroad?

The more I try and sit down and shift through my options to make my final and concrete decisions about when and where to go, the more I am overtaken by an overwhelming sense of anxiety. I haven’t experienced anxiety this bad since I started my medication (I know, I really need to write about my anxiety separately, but it hasn’t happened yet). That being said, it wasn’t terrible in terms of past anxieties — there were no panic attacks or anything like that, but I’ve been very unsettled about studying abroad. The thing is, I don’t want to just go for the sake of going. Yes I do want to travel and see the world, but I’m not sure that studying abroad is going to be the way to do that for me.

At this point, since I still don’t know where in the world I want to go, I feel like I would just be choosing a country at random to spend four months in. While there isn’t anything inherently wrong with doing that,  I don’t know if that’s what I want to do. I just don’t have a particular passion for any one place on the globe more than any other, and I’m not sure I can personally justify going somewhere for a whole semester on a whim.

There are also several conflicts on the home front to my going abroad for a semester. Assuming I did settle on a place to go and all that, I would still have to figure some things out. Next year I will no longer be living in university housing, which means I would have to sublease. I know this isn’t necessarily a difficult thing to do, I just don’t like the idea of it. I don’t want to completely move into an apartment for just one semester and then have to take my personal belongings out for someone else to live there for the next.

I’m also growing a lot just by staying on my campus, especially spiritually. I’m afraid that if I spent so long away from a spiritual community, that I would lose my desire to continue growing a bit.

There are leadership opportunities on campus that I’m looking into that I wouldn’t be able to do if I studies abroad. It just wouldn’t be possible.

I had a few other obstacles on my list as well, but they have escaped me for the time being.

Then again, I don’t know if all of this is just my fear talking. While I don’t want to go senselessly, I also don’t want to let my fears and anxieties stand in the way of a great opportunity. I don’t want to look back years from now and regret that I didn’t study abroad.

It’s just so much to figure out and it’s all decisions that only I can make. Sure I can get help from a few places, but ultimately the decision is mine. What’s a girl to do?

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5 thoughts on “The Overwhelming Option of Studying Abroad

  1. Get ready for a long comment!

    I’ve had the same thoughts about wanting to study abroad since I knew it was a thing that you could do when you “grew up” mostly because I love to travel and I want to see the world. However, when I got to school this year I was afraid that it was not going to happen and then things started to fall in place. Then, I started making friends that I really liked and spending time with and I was almost afraid that if I left that I would come back and be alone again. After talking to a few of them about this, they told me that I was crazy and I shouldn’t give up on something I’ve always wanted to do.
    Then the decision came to choose a place and I was really stuck between London and Sydney, two big places on my bucket list that I have always wanted to live in for a little bit of my life but I just couldn’t decide. So what I did was a choose a place that I would have never pictured myself living, even though I’ve been there a few times, so I picked Dublin. I’m still working on the application process and everything but I think if it’s something you’ve always wanted to do, you should do it. I was in the same place of wanting to take on leadership roles as well, and I think I figured out a way (if it works out) to do them abroad. Skype and emails!
    My biggest thing when it came to my decision was I didn’t want to regret not taking such a great opportunity.
    Sorry this comment was so long, I just felt a rush of passion and familiarity when I read your post so I thought I should share, sorry if this was too unwarranted!

    1. First of all, never apologize for long comments. I absolutely adore when anyone comments on my stuff and if they’re long, it just give me more to read and more to think about–and what’s not to love about that? Plus, I love getting input from you Mary; it’s been so fun to be interacting with you here.

      Anyways, I would say that for now, study abroad is still on the table. I just need to do a bit more convincing in my brain so that it will stop freaking out whenever I think about it. It’s hard when I know that I would really enjoy something, but my brain just wants to think of all the difficulties around it. I’m sure that no matter where I went I would have a wonderful time.

      Ironically, London and Dublin are on the list of places that I’m considering.What a small world.

      I never considered being able to do leadership positions via email, that’s a great idea and I will have to look into it.

      As always, great to hear from you Mary!

      1. Well I’m glad you’re still considering it! I think the leadership positions via email will probably take some convincing on my part, but I’m ready to do that!
        They’re both beautiful cities and wherever you end up you can visit the other too! Flights are like $60 round trip from Dublin to London.

  2. In college I spent a semester of college in Copenhagen at Denmark’s International School (DIS) and it was fantastic. I also studied in Beijing for summer, which was a bit more challenging. Studying abroad is a great opportunity. Rarely have I met a person who didn’t love their experience, not matter where they went. If going abroad is too challenging logistically, some colleges do exchanges that would easily allow you to spend a semester at a sister college someone else in the same country. Good luck.

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