Preparing For A Study Abroad

Preparing For A Study Abroad

Alternatively titled: A List of Things That Stress Me Out.
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Leaving the country is always an exciting experience, but it's especially exciting when you get to do it through your school. It’s like taking learning and making it fun again. But exciting as it may be, there are things that will be stressful about it, especially beforehand.

1. Shopping

Shopping for a study abroad can be fun if you really like shopping, but most of the time its just stressful. Do I need a $60 shirt to go trekking in the jungles of Panama? Probably, buy it just in case. Next thing you know, your total is $500 and all you can do is think about all the groceries that could’ve bought as the checkout clerk gladly takes your money. Just remember that the capitalists can smell your fear, and they’ll sell you something for it.

2. Packing

I don’t even want to think about it, but packing is literally the most important thing you do before getting on the plane. That suitcase is now your life-line and best friend, do not lose its trust. You’ll be living out of that thing for the next few weeks because we all know you won't bother to unpack once you get there. It’s a good idea to get all the clothes you think you might need, and then see what fits and what doesn’t. Better to overpack than under pack in most cases.

3. Planning

This is the hardest part, by far. A lot of thought has to go into everything you do, because you’re going to a foreign country with a different culture and different rules. One dumb plan could have disastrous consequences. It is best to have everything written down, and to refer to your itinerary and course syllabus often. Your professor should have guidelines for you depending on the country, but you can’t depend on them for everything. A lot of this planning stuff is on you.

4. Paying

Hopefully you can take out a loan, or your parents can help you. It doesn’t hurt quite as much when it seems like it’s being paid for by other people (in reality you’re totally still paying for it but at least it doesn’t seem like you are.) If you’re unlucky enough to just be paying out of pocket, my heart hurts for you. Seriously, the thought of giving someone else all of my money physically hurts me, and those who pay for their entire study abroad with their own money possess unheard-of mental fortitude.

5. Patience

After “planning” this just became of list of things I don’t have. In all seriousness, planning such an extensive and involved trip requires a lot of patience. There will be missed details and small screw-ups, but you can’t let the stress these instances bring weigh you down.

The whole point of a study abroad is for you to learn in a unique and fun way, to give you an experience you’ll treasure forever. That might be slightly romanticizing it, but still, the experience isn’t meant to be overly stressful.

Cover Image Credit: Alexia Darnell

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PSA: Keep Your Body-Negative Opinions Away From Little Girls This Summer

But our own baggage shouldn't be shoved on to those we surround ourselves with.

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It's officially swimsuit season, y'all.

The temperature is rising, the sun is bright and shining, and a trip to the beach couldn't look more appealing than it does right now. This is the time of year that many of us have been rather impatiently waiting for. It's also the time of year that a lot of us feel our most self-conscious.

I could take the time to remind you that every body is a bikini body. I could type out how everyone is stunning in their own unique way and that no one should feel the need to conform to a certain standard of beauty to feel beautiful, male or female. I could sit here and tell you that the measurement of your waistline is not a reflection of your worth. I completely believe every single one of these things.

Hell, I've shared these exact thoughts more times than I can count. This time around, however, I'm not going to say all these things. Instead, I'm begging you to push your insecurities to the side and fake some confidence in yourself when you're in front of others.

Why?

Because our negative self-image is toxic and contagious and we're spreading this negative thinking on to others.

We're all guilty of this, we're with family or a friend and we make a nasty comment about some aspect of our appearance, not even giving a single thought to the impact our words have on the person with us. You might think that it shouldn't bother them- after all, we're not saying anything bad about them! We're just expressing our feelings about something we dislike about ourselves. While I agree that having conversations about our insecurities and feelings are important for our mental and emotional health, there is a proper and improper way of doing it. An open conversation can leave room for growth, acceptance, understanding, and healing. Making a rude or disheartening remark about yourself is destructive not only to yourself, but it will make the person you are saying these things around question their own self worth or body image by comparing themselves to you.

My little sister thinks she's "fat." She doesn't like how she looks. To use her own words, she thinks she's "too chubby" and that she "looks bad in everything."

She's 12 years old.

Do you want to know why she has this mindset? As her older sister, I failed in leading her by example. There were plenty of times when I was slightly younger, less sure of myself, and far more self-conscious than I am now, that I would look in the mirror and say that I looked too chubby, that my body didn't look good enough, that I wished I could change the size of my legs or stomach.

My little sister had to see the older sibling she looks up to, the big sis she thinks always looks beautiful, say awful and untrue things about herself because her own sense of body image was warped by media, puberty, and comparing herself to others.

My negativity rubbed off onto her and shaped how she looks at herself. I can just imagine her watching me fret over how I look thinking, "If she thinks she's too big, what does that make me?"

It makes me feel sick.

All of us are dealing with our own insecurities. It takes some of us longer than others to view ourselves in a positive, loving light. We're all working on ourselves every day, whether it be mentally, physically, or emotionally. But our own baggage shouldn't be shoved on to those we surround ourselves with, our struggles and insecurities should not form into their own burdens.

Work on yourself in private. Speak kindly of yourself in front of others. Let your positivity, real or not, spread to others instead of the bad feelings we have a bad habit of letting loose.

The little girls of the world don't need your or my negative self-image this summer. Another kid doesn't need to feel worthless because we couldn't be a little more loving to ourselves and a lot more conscious of what we say out loud.

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The Struggle of Taking Classes During the Summer

It can put a bit of a damper on summer fun

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To everyone reading: I hope you're having a nice, relaxing summer. Even if you're working I hope you can get a few days off to hang out with friends, go to the beach, and have some nice downtime. Not me. I am currently in the process of completing two four-week long summer classes. I'm taking them now to get ahead for next semester and to keep my overall schedule on track. It certainly isn't fun, but the reminder that it is only four weeks is what really keeps me going. If you are in the same boat as me, you'll relate to this list like no one else can; if you're not taking summer classes, don't let this list scare you, but use it to mentally prepare yourself for any you may have in the future.

1. Studying and homework

The homework isn't too bad with some summer classes just because you don't have time for a lot of intense projects. Still, since the class is so short you have to do some kind of homework pretty much every day. Make a schedule and spread it out so you don't get too behind.

2. Actually going to class

I am in two classes. One meets in person every day from 10 am to 11:45 am. The other is online. Let me be the first to say that getting up for class during the normal semesters is hard enough, but knowing my little brother gets to sleep in while I have to wake up early and go class is a real motivation suppressant.

I will say, though, it's kind of nice being on campus when it's basically empty.

3. No going out...

You'll probably be a little down because you might not be able to really go out at all during the time you're in class. For me, I go to lecture every morning, come home and do homework for that class, then do homework for my online class. I have some free time on the weekends, but I try to use those lecture-free days to study or work on papers.

4. But being super busy

Even though you might not be able to go out like a summer off, you'll be keeping yourself busy with all that super fun homework I mentioned.

5. Stress

Yes, summer classes can be a little stressful and it's pretty much all thanks to how fast-paced they are. Just do what I do: make a homework and project schedule as soon as you can and remind yourself how short it is.

Summer classes are not the worst thing in the world, and if you choose to take one at some point it won't be absolutely horrible. The nice thing about them is it's like ripping off a Band-Aid; it may be a little painful and annoying, but it's over so fast you don't suffer. Pick your class and professor wisely and get down to business; taking the class means you're one step closer to graduation!

So, to anyone else taking a summer class: good luck and you got this!

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