5 Emotional Stages of Going (and Being) Abroad
Start writing a post
Relationships

5 Emotional Stages of Going (and Being) Abroad

Everything in life happens in stages; traveling is no different.

789
5 Emotional Stages of Going (and Being) Abroad

So, you're going abroad: to study, to work, to visit, or to travel the world. Congratulations! You've done your research, been accepted, your passport and any required visas are up to date, your flights and accommodations are booked, and your bags are packed. Now, it's time to embark on the adventure of a lifetime.

Being abroad is an exciting, life-changing experience...but, it can also be overwhelming at times. Things are different than what you're used to, you may be constantly translating a foreign language, and trying to build new social circles can be taxing. But, just remember: like most things in life, learning to adapt to living in a foreign country comes in emotional (and sometimes physical) stages. Below are five of the most commonly experienced "phases" which people pass through during their time abroad.


1. Excitement

We all know what excitement feels like, when your heart races and you feel like leaping, skipping, shouting, or singing for joy. It is the feeling you get when you talk about going abroad, when you realize that you are able to follow your dreams. It is the feeling that inspires you to travel in the first place. Excitement is what courses through your veins while you pack your suitcase, when your plane takes off, when you land and leave the airport for the first time. It is also the honeymoon stage...the stage where you look around and everything is amazing, the sights are beautiful, the people are cool, and the food is extraordinary. Excitement will get you over your jet lag and motivate you to make this the Best. Trip. Ever!


2. Disorientation

Disorientation can also be called the "lost and confused" stage. This happens after you've had a good night's sleep and have calmed down from your initial traveling excitement. You may realize you don't know anyone yet, you may not know where anything is, and you may not even know where you are. That's okay. Lost and confused isn't always a bad thing. If anything, this phase allows you to create a "nest" for yourself--in your dorm, hotel room, apartment, etc.--to come back to as an anchor. Personalize your space with pictures, colors, or whatever helps you feel at ease. Then, go out and explore the lay of the land; it's the best way to stop feeling so...well...lost.



3. Frustration/Cultural Confrontation

This phase is more widely known as "culture shock". Culture shock sets in a few days to a week after your initial excitement and disorientation pass. You may suddenly find that you don't want to go exploring, or that things may not seem as wonderful as you initially thought. Having a new language (or, if you're in a country that speaks your native language, accents or phrases), new community, different amenities and food tastes surrounding you may seem incredibly overwhelming. Everything is different, and going through daily life is less of a novelty and more of a frustration; your jet lag might be replaced with headaches. Just remember: it's okay to feel frustrated or upset; all of this is totally normal and part of the process of traveling abroad. It's also okay to take time to yourself. Maybe take a walk, or redecorate your room. Establish a routine that becomes more familiar and comfortable to you with each passing day, and push your comfort zone bit by bit. Before you know it, your excitement about being in a new place will come back, and you'll forget all about those feelings of frustration.



4. Homesickness

Right after culture shock comes homesickness. You may find yourself missing your parents a little extra, wanting your mom's cooking above all else, and desperately trying not to cry away the hole you feel in your heart whenever someone asks you about home or if you see a picture that reminds you of friends, family, or pets. I know, it's definitely not a fantastic feeling. But, it does get better. Set up a Skype date with your parents. FaceTime your best friend. Bring a stuffed animal, pillow, or blanket with you that carries a reminder of your favorite home-related memories. Watch your favorite movie or listen to your favorite song...and remember. You'll be thinking of your environment as your home away from home soon.


5. Acceptance/Serenity

Finally, all those feelings of melancholy are gone! Now, it may not happen overnight after you've been feeling overwhelmed and homesick, but it will happen. Everything around you will become inviting and familiar. You'll have friends, a nest, and a routine.You may even feel giddy and excited again. But, most importantly, you will feel like you are independent and integrated within the culture you are living in. You will finally feel home...and you may never want to leave.


Now, I know not everyone is the same. These stages will vary in intensity depending on the person, the place, and the time away from home. Some people may experience one phase for longer, others may not experience certain phases at all. This article is only meant to be an overview of what to expect, so you know what you are feeling and experiencing is normal.

In the meantime, go out and enjoy your adventure! Love the journey you're taking.Your life will never be the same when you return.


Report this Content
This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
the beatles
Wikipedia Commons

For as long as I can remember, I have been listening to The Beatles. Every year, my mom would appropriately blast “Birthday” on anyone’s birthday. I knew all of the words to “Back In The U.S.S.R” by the time I was 5 (Even though I had no idea what or where the U.S.S.R was). I grew up with John, Paul, George, and Ringo instead Justin, JC, Joey, Chris and Lance (I had to google N*SYNC to remember their names). The highlight of my short life was Paul McCartney in concert twice. I’m not someone to “fangirl” but those days I fangirled hard. The music of The Beatles has gotten me through everything. Their songs have brought me more joy, peace, and comfort. I can listen to them in any situation and find what I need. Here are the best lyrics from The Beatles for every and any occasion.

Keep Reading...Show less
Being Invisible The Best Super Power

The best superpower ever? Being invisible of course. Imagine just being able to go from seen to unseen on a dime. Who wouldn't want to have the opportunity to be invisible? Superman and Batman have nothing on being invisible with their superhero abilities. Here are some things that you could do while being invisible, because being invisible can benefit your social life too.

Keep Reading...Show less
Featured

19 Lessons I'll Never Forget from Growing Up In a Small Town

There have been many lessons learned.

77665
houses under green sky
Photo by Alev Takil on Unsplash

Small towns certainly have their pros and cons. Many people who grow up in small towns find themselves counting the days until they get to escape their roots and plant new ones in bigger, "better" places. And that's fine. I'd be lying if I said I hadn't thought those same thoughts before too. We all have, but they say it's important to remember where you came from. When I think about where I come from, I can't help having an overwhelming feeling of gratitude for my roots. Being from a small town has taught me so many important lessons that I will carry with me for the rest of my life.

Keep Reading...Show less
​a woman sitting at a table having a coffee
nappy.co

I can't say "thank you" enough to express how grateful I am for you coming into my life. You have made such a huge impact on my life. I would not be the person I am today without you and I know that you will keep inspiring me to become an even better version of myself.

Keep Reading...Show less
Student Life

Waitlisted for a College Class? Here's What to Do!

Dealing with the inevitable realities of college life.

148634
college students waiting in a long line in the hallway
StableDiffusion

Course registration at college can be a big hassle and is almost never talked about. Classes you want to take fill up before you get a chance to register. You might change your mind about a class you want to take and must struggle to find another class to fit in the same time period. You also have to make sure no classes clash by time. Like I said, it's a big hassle.

This semester, I was waitlisted for two classes. Most people in this situation, especially first years, freak out because they don't know what to do. Here is what you should do when this happens.

Keep Reading...Show less

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

Facebook Comments