Deciding Not To Study Abroad Was The Best Decision For Me
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Deciding Not To Study Abroad Was The Best Decision For Me

A week before I was supposed to leave, I cancelled my visa.

Deciding Not To Study Abroad Was The Best Decision For Me
Meredith Scroggin

The idea of studying abroad during fall of my junior year was a natural assumption. The idea of galloping throughout Europe with all of my best friends and going to a different country every weekend flashed in the heads of all of us throughout freshman and sophomore year. Our friends returned back from abroad talking about how abroad was the best time ever. With plenty of Instagram pics and a newfound love for fancy foods with them when they were back at UR, it seemed like it was what we all wanted.

But it isn't necessarily always that. I decided two weeks before leaving for Europe that it wasn't for me and it was the best decision I ever made.

Throughout fall of my sophomore year, studying abroad was all we could talk about. And while many dreamed of their top cities and universities across the world, I couldn't tell you one place that sparked my interest. But I knew I wanted to be abroad. I went into January of sophomore year with everyone talking about where they had applied and I went to the study abroad office trying to figure out where I could go with my grades and required courses for my majors. I picked two cities and went from there. I got a little bit excited writing about my top choice because it seemed so glamorous, but there was still a little bit of anxiety.

I got into a program in Belgium and was excited to have a "place," but still wasn't feeling that magical feeling that all of my friends were feeling when getting their acceptance letters. I had issues with acceptance into that host school and it somewhat seemed like it was being forced. But I kept on going with the program.

I left the University of Richmond campus in April, mostly sad that I wouldn't be back there until January. But I had a summer in New York City that I was excited for and had to think about first.

My summer was the time of my life. NYC is my new favorite city and it was an amazing time exploring and truly taking in this incredible place. I found it difficult to think about leaving, let alone going to a completely new city that I knew nothing about.

The last month of being in NYC, more and more anxiety crept over me. I am naturally an anxious person and everything stresses me out. But I had figured out NYC, so surely I could figure out a city in Europe, right? And all my friends were going to be in Europe, so I had to stick with it. I was tired of feeling like I only stayed in my comfort zone and I needed to keep pushing through.

But two weeks before I was supposed to fly across the world, I still could not get excited about being there. Nothing in my body really pushed me to want to study abroad except for the fact that it was a norm and that everyone else I knew was doing it and could get past their anxieties.

I flew home to Kentucky and sat down with my parents. The same day that I got home from New York City and one week before I was supposed to fly to Belgium, I decided to not go abroad.

And everything was fine.

In fact, it was much more fine than it had ever been. Suddenly, the stress of trying to figure out how to move to Europe for a semester vanished. I started thinking about being back at Richmond and getting more excited.

And this past semester, I have followed all of my friends abroad on social media, and honestly, no part of me wishes I were there. I know I made the right decision-- but not the right decision in general, the right decision for ME.

I have nothing AT ALL against abroad. I am so excited for all of my friends to return and to hear their stories. I'm so happy for them in having the best times of their lives. But for me, I had to make that decision for what was best for myself. Spending a semester in a city with zero people I know, speaking a language I know zero of, with zero money, and possibly getting credit for zero classes? Probably not the best for me. Add a dose of hella anxiety and medicated depression on top of that? I'm out of there.

Part of me wishes I hadn't taken so long to decide I wasn't studying abroad. But the other part is incredibly glad that I allowed myself to go through the whole process, understand what it was all about, and still know myself well enough to realize it wasn't for me.

I spent my semester taking advantage of things I might not have been able to if I were gone. I got incredibly close with some amazing friends, took on leadership roles, explored Richmond, learned more about who I am, and made some amazing memories.

Going abroad might be for me later in life, but for now, it wasn't in the cards. I learned that it's crucial to think about what is best for you and totally disregard what other people are doing or say you should do. Make the most out of the situation you choose to be in and go conquer what you want. Always be sure that you're sticking to your gut and thinking about your mental wellbeing.

Can't wait to see all of you ~cultured~ pals soon. Miss ya.

Btw, here's what we've been up to.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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