For those of you who don't know, I will be studying abroad this coming fall. I will be spending a semester in London—a place I have never been to—with my time split between classes and a brilliant internship. I'm super excited about it. Trust me, I've been talking about studying abroad since I've started college, and I always wanted to go to England to do so.
But as the weeks creep by, summer rolls to its end, and all of those back-to-school emails pop up in my inbox, a sense of nervousness has descended on top of everything else, and I wanted to take a moment to reflect on what that means. I want to be able to look back on this piece and think, "Yeah, I was nervous beforehand, but I was also really excited to make the most of my experience, and I did that."
Everyone talks about the fun things you expect from studying abroad: meeting new people, trying new foods, seeing new places, spending your time somewhere you find unfamiliar. Those are the experiences you take with you and shape how you are as a human being.
But there is the underlying warning: you may be homesick, it won't be easy at first, you have to do everything you can to find a place for yourself.
If you think studying abroad is always a fun and easy thing to do, you'd be mistaken. If you're not careful, feeling isolated in a foreign country will only make things worse.
But a few nerves are a good thing! Nerves mean that you understand that there will be bumps ahead. Nerves mean that you recognize the danger in romanticizing studying abroad to the point of not accepting the negatives. Nerves mean that you're about to do something exciting, and you're very aware of it.
As I sit here, writing this piece with a few weeks separating me from my study abroad adventure, I'm aware of those pre-study abroad nerves. They serve as gentle reminders of how huge this is.
Studying abroad is a big thing, but the outcome depends on what you make of it. I know you've heard this repeated over and over in your lives, but it's the truth. The worst situations can change in an instant depending on your outlook. Don't let those nerves overcome you until you shrink within yourself. Let them remind you where you are and how much potential lies in front of you.
I'm nervous about studying abroad, but more than that, I'm excited. I think about it all the time, but I still worry I haven't thought about it enough. I still feel like I haven't quite grasped how incredible the experience will be. The nerves that have settled in my stomach will fade—so long as I'm wise in my adventures.
If you're studying abroad or doing something similar in which the nerves have made their appearance and you're worried they'll stick around, remind yourself that their presence is positive. It means you're careful. It means you're human.
So whatever you're planning…
Whatever you're doing…
Go out there, and rattle the world.