I have always dreamed about traveling the world and experiencing what the world has to offer. Before I even started college, I heard tempting stories of study abroad. I knew if I had the chance to travel or study abroad I would. I promised myself I would. This summer, I am fulfilling that promise. I am studying the Arabic language in Morocco for two months.
After applying for the program and being accepted, the spring semester was full of preparing for my trip. I had to find tickets, make sure my insurance would cover me overseas, apply for scholarships, among other mandatory portions of the application. I reminded myself each part would be worth it (especially when I was calling my insurance company for the fifth time).
However, being preoccupied with paperwork and meetings as well as school did not leave much time to think about how I actually felt about studying abroad. I was infatuated with the idea of studying abroad that I ignored the growing anxiety associated with studying abroad. As my second year ended, I realized I had many more worries about my upcoming trip.
I had never traveled internationally by myself before. I would have to navigate new airports in countries where I did not know the language. I would have to be responsible for my own passport this time. I would be in a new country where I was not yet fluent in the language. What if I got sick from the food or the new environment? What if my classes were too difficult for me to handle?
These "what if" scenarios plagued my mind more than I would like to admit. I tend to have an overactive imagination and did not help soothe my fears. Instead of focusing on what I was scared about, I related to previous experiences. I have traveled domestically by myself so many times that it is second nature. I could definitely manage on my own in Morocco. I had moved to Emory, 700 miles away from home and had done just fine. I could do the same in a different country. It would take a bit more time to adjust, but I eventually would find it like another home.
Channeling my energy into focusing on what I hoped to gain from my time abroad allowed me to remember the reason I yearned to travel and study abroad for so long. I have to acknowledge I would be outside of my comfort zone but isn't that the reason I wanted to travel? It was the reason I wanted to go beyond what I knew because that is how I would learn. I would never learn by staying in the same place for the rest of my life.
By making the adrenaline rush of taking a risk to fuel my desire to study abroad rather than fear, I give myself the power to decide how much I would gain from my experience.