The Hardest Thing About Study Abroad?

Perhaps the hardest part of studying abroad is that you have less “safety nets” – people you can talk to or things you can do to make yourself feel better if something goes wrong. Yes, my host family, the other students in my program, my program director, and the other exchange students are all incredible. I honestly lucked out and I think about that everyday. But there’s a sense of security that comes with being able to confide in people who have known you for a while, understand how you’ll feel in different situations, and have been there for you before. It reminds me of the way I felt towards the beginning of my freshman year at college; “everyone here is super nice, but I still just met them.”

Ironically, my college is now what I’m missing. I have so many friends there and the culture is so warm that it’s not unusual for me to meet an absolute stranger that I feel I could just tell everything to if I wanted. I also worry that I’m not there to be one more safety net for other people. We’re a community and it’s hard to be apart from.

I guess the two most important things to do are to make a better effort to keep in contact with the people back home (both my hometown and my college), and to remember that we supposedly grow the most when we’re out of our comfort zones.

14 thoughts on “The Hardest Thing About Study Abroad?”

  1. Reblogged this on Jess In Spain and commented:
    I couldn’t agree more with this post! It’s hard to be away from the people who know you so well, and to be out of your comfort zone. I think it is especially hard when there is an issue of communication as well. But I’ve learned so much about myself already and although it can be tough at times, I wouldn’t trade my study abroad experience so far for anything

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  2. Wise words. I once read about a writer (or an artist? unfortunately can’t remember!) who said he thought it was a good idea to (figuratively) throw yourself out a window every 4 years or so. And that’s what you’re doing–with excellent results, including introspection and perspective taking. You go, girl. The net WILL hold.

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  3. “It’s the same and it’s different,” is the phrase that comes to me on thinking about this post. Thank you for opening a window of insight. Even in this day of network connectivity, there are still the feelings of totally-on-your-own that I experienced 40 years ago and again 30 years ago. Trust me (and trust my daughter who is experiencing it now), it is an experience that will deepen you.

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  4. I am feeling the same right now. For example I had to go to the doctor (just having a bad flu), and I didn’t want to go alone, but I just could not ask anybody, even to the ones that offered themselves to go with me I said no because I just couldn’t feel confortable enough with them. So sometimes you miss all your safe nets (especially mothers) but I think I won’t regret it anyway.
    I’m following you by the way, nice site!! 🙂

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  5. This is very true, and it’s crazy how being away gives you the impression that everything is possible. I also think that the environment you’re in has a large role to play as well. I was away from home (still am) for a long period of time in two different countries and I have to admit that the people I have met in one country felt more trustworthy than those in the other. Two different places with two different vibes..

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  6. It is so true that we grow the most outside of our comfort zones. I moved to work in another country while in my early twenties. I’m still here – and I have grown so much. It’s hard. But I also have two worlds of friends!

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  7. So much wisdom in someone so young! I envy you starting your overseas adventures so early. I didn’t start until I was well into my thirties-and it really rocked my world. Thanks for following my blog – I love what you are doing with your own. Best wishes, Melissa 🙂

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  8. Hi.. I know it’s been almost a year but I like this post. It’s totally true. There is a certain loneliness that comes from being away from the comfort and familiarity of home. But that can also be the best part of the experience, I have grown in ways that I never thought possible, and this experience has allowed me to discover myself.

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