Welcome to the second installment of Wellness Wednesdays featuring Abroad101′s expert on expat emotional health, Melissa Doman. Below Melissa shares with us the Top 5 tips for preparing yourself emotionally to study abroad.
Studying abroad will not only be one of the best adventures of your life, but it may be one of the most important personal development experiences that you will have as a young adult. Awesome excursions and delectable foreign cuisine aside, you’re about to embark on an amazing cultural immersion journey that will give you a global perspective and change your sense of self – for the better!
By this time, I’m sure your family and friends have given you plenty of tips on preparation for study abroad. They’ve likely overloaded you with such phrases as, “don’t forget to pack this!” or “will they have peanut butter there?” and the classic “ honey you can never have enough socks!” What I’m here to do is give you tips on how to manage something we often forget to check in with during major times of transition: our emotions and well-being. While you’re packing up your stuff and preparing for your journey, here are a few tips to keep your lovely college-educated brains in check:
- Set up a support system. Talk to your study abroad advisor, college counselor, or family members about your concerns. Whether it’s friends at home you can Skype with, or finding people in your program that can connect with, remember you’re not in this alone.
- Do your research! Before heading abroad, find out about cultural nuances and customs in your host country. We often handle change better when we have briefed ourselves on what to expect.
- Make a bucket list! Outline personal goals for your study abroad experience. Whether it’s frolicking with exotic animals or enjoying an authentic meal with your host family – try anything you can!
- Your study abroad experience is your own. Don’t compare yourself to those around you. Everyone’s experience will be unique in it’s own way and we’re all on our own timeline.
- What goes up must come down. When you leave home and go abroad, you may experience some mild emotional ups and downs. Not to worry though, experiencing the blues or feeling a bit anxious is a normal part of the change process – especially when it comes to cultural adjustment.
Remember, most people may never get the experience to live in another country, or even leave their own state. You’ve been given an extraordinary opportunity – use it in every way you can! I’ll end with the words of Charles Dudley Warner, “there is no moment of delight in any pilgrimage like the beginning of it.” Bon voyage!
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