Written by Melodie Vuong (University of Texas- Austin), Student Correspondent CET Shanghai Summer 2019
Fact: Studying abroad is scary for everyone. It is a new place with unknown challenges. While each person’s fear level may be different; no one is completely fearless. [If so, can I be you?] Since this is a new experience for everyone, people are going to be more friendly and willing to talk to strangers. Striking up a conversation is hard, but it is not impossible. A simple hi will almost guarantee a response unless you are just extremely unlucky and approached a mime. I am not saying that you will become great friends with the first person you talk to, but it is a possibility. However, statistically speaking, the more people you talk to, the higher the probability you will find someone you click with. Think of this less as an intimidating interaction and more of a casual conversation because that is exactly what is it.
Fact: If you are concerned that you will not have enough time to travel because of the course load. Keep in mind that you are studying abroad. That does mean that you will have to go to class, review the material, complete assignments, study for exams, and all the other responsibilities that are bestowed upon students. Nevertheless, it will not be completely overwhelming or so time-consuming that you will not be able to explore. The reason studying abroad may seem like more work is because you have more distractions. You are in a new city will so many shiny new things that it may seem like you will not have time to see it all. Take a breath instead of panicking, start planning. Time management will be your best ally to balance school work and traveling. There will be time to see things (no promises that you will have the opportunity to see everything). However, you are here to learn. This includes concepts in the classroom and lessons outside the classroom. Nevertheless, it is completely up to you to figure out the balance that works for you and maintain that balance throughout your study abroad experience.
Fear: FOMO (fear of missing out)
Fact: Just because you are abroad does not mean that your friends will pause their life. They will still have their internships, hang out with their other friends, and enjoy their summer just like you will be enjoying yours. You may miss them but remember that they are just a phone call away (this also applies to your parents; they miss you and want to hear from you too). However, this does not mean you should be constantly messaging home. You are in a new country with so many new opportunities for exploration. You cannot see all that is in front of you if you are always turning your head to see what is behind you. The key is to find the balance between staying in contact with your friends and family and living in the moment. This may be tricky at first, but there is not a straightforward answer that will work for everyone.