“All by myself… don’t wanna be…”
Actually, going off to study abroad on your own isn’t cause for Eric Carmen/Celine Dion power ballads. Calm down. (Actually, I mean, if you are down to belt it, belt it. Don’t let me stop you.)
While it may seem daunting at first, going solo when studying abroad is actually a great learning experience, and not just in the academic sense. What do I mean by that? In my case, I’m the only person from EIU at the University of Westminster in London. Because of that, I’ve become more self-reliant, assertive and have learned so much about myself!
Living outside your comfort zone isn’t all rainbows and sunshine, however. I’ve made mistakes, looked like a fool, and haven’t had any familiar faces to rely on for help.
Does that freak you out?
First piece of advice: Don’t freak out. (If you watch Chuck, bonus points!) It may seem overwhelming. It may seem scary. But remember to breathe. Remember that you’ve done things like this before.
Yes, you have done this before. Remember when you knew next-to-no-one at EIU your freshman year? What did you do? You probably knocked on someone’s door on your floor, maybe you went to the icebreakers in the quad, and you surely met people in your class. And what did you do when you needed stuff for your room? You jumped on the Panther shuttle or drove to Wal-Mart and bought it like a big kid. In short, you put yourself out there and made friends. You adapted to your new environment.
Studying abroad isn’t all that different. When you’re studying abroad in another country you meet new friends in much the same way. And you’ll quickly find a store for all those flat/apartment/room/shoebox necessities. (Trust me, if I can do it, anyone can.)
And after tackling such an experience, imagine how well you’ll do when you move into the big bad “real world” everyone is always droning on about! Scary, right? But if you can jump in to another country, another culture, and make it work, that big, bad, real world will seem like a breeze.
So far, this experience has been fantastic, and I look forward to what more it will bring. Studying abroad alone can seem overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. If you are open-minded about the culture and country you’re in, and remember to be yourself, you’ll have the time of your life. I am!
One last piece of advice that isn’t really pertinent to this, but I think everyone should know:
– Walk places! Don’t just take public transport or you’ll feel like you’re teleporting everywhere and miss all of the good things in between.
Adventure is out there! (Yep. Went there.)
Mattie Korneta is junior History major studying abroad at the University of Westminster in London, England for the academic year. You can keep up with her adventures at: http://astudyinthesmoke.wordpress.com/