What I Knew Before Studying Abroad

Why Studying Abroad Isn’t For Everyone

Nothing in life is guaranteed. Nothing in life is perfect. Studying abroad is made out to be a fantasy where nothing can go wrong. But that fantasy is only true for some people, not everyone.

Caroline Fiske

When you hear the term "study abroad," what comes to mind? What is the first thing that people tell you about studying abroad? For me it was this:

"It is the trip of a lifetime!"

"It is the most amazing experience that you will ever have!"

"It is like a fantasy!"

"I wish I could be abroad instead of in America! I want to go back!"

"All of your dreams come true when you study abroad."

Do you notice that all of those comments are positive? That's what I noticed at first, but I honestly was not bothered by it because of how positive those comments were. You see, that was when I knew something was up. Because it is a known fact that nothing in life is perfect. So how can that whole concept change just by studying abroad? Despite all of these too-positive comments, I ended up going to Florence, Italy through Marist College's program. Plus, everyone who I had talked to about studying abroad beforehand had all raved about it. So I thought to myself, why not? I have nothing to lose!

My whole life I have always been a risk taker; that is because I have been involved in the theatre since I was four years old. The most important lesson that the theatre has taught me throughout the course of my experience is that you have to "dare to be bad," which means that you shouldn't care about what other people think of you on stage. If you are playing a weird, a crazy or a scary character, you have to give it your all, which means that being the craziest person you could possibly be just might be the best performance anyone has ever seen.

There are many reasons as to why Florence did not work out for me and why I had to leave early. Many of those reasons were out of my control, including how the campus itself was a bunch of random buildings around the city instead of on one campus; not being close to my family and friends back in America; how none of my close friends were in the same situation as me; using Google Maps to get around the city because otherwise I would get lost; and feeling so alone.

I felt so embarrassed because I was not enjoying myself like practically everyone else was. Before when people would ask me how I was doing, I would lie and just tell them that I was fine when I knew deep down inside that I was anything but fine. I started pushing everybody away. I deleted my Instagram account that was dedicated to my experience in Florence, I stopped contacting my friends, and I would only talk to my parents about how much I wanted to go home. I didn't mean to shut everybody out; I was just so scared that I didn't know what else to do. Now I have learned that I shouldn't have been embarrassed. Now I know that I am very lucky to have many people in my life who love me and care about me. Now I know that those people want the best for me. Now I know that I shouldn't be scared to tell my loved ones what is going on in my life no matter how dark it is.

One of the biggest risks that I've taken so far was going to Florence, especially since I had little to no knowledge of what the experience was actually going to be like besides the same old comments. I also made the super brave decision of not going with any of my close friends since I wanted to meet new people. Because of my extroverted personality, I love to interact with and meet new people, so I was thought that I would have an experience of a lifetime as I met and made new friends with people from all over the world.

Was I nervous before going there? Of course, I was! Yet at the same time, I was also excited, so that's why I thought that me being nervous was nothing to worry about since I was also excited. Now that I think about it, was I a little too nervous before going to Florence? Maybe. But I am not going to point fingers at anybody for being the cause of turning my whole world upside down. It happened! The program in Florence just got too much for me, so I left early. It is not my fault. It is not anyone else's fault. I am not a failure because of it.

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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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