Although going on a year abroad can be one of the most exciting and life changing experiences of a person’s life, there are many drawbacks that make us question if we are making the right decision to take one. One of the most common reasons is homesickness and not being with family and friends for twelve whole months. However, time abroad can change someone so much, almost always for the better. It moves you out of your comfort zone and the people and places that are so familiar to you.
“You will make memories that will last a life time.”
A year abroad is something that is unmissable, even though change of any kind if worrying to anyone. A compulsory year abroad as part of a university degree not only challenges and excites someone, but also opens their mind and makes life more interesting for a general overall university experience: it seems you truly get the whole package.
Whether it is part of a language degree just to improve your knowledge and abilities, or an optional semester abroad as part of a humanities programme, going abroad is almost like taking a leap of faith. The first few things that come into someone’s mind (mine for instance came when I spent 6 weeks alone in Thailand, then 7 weeks volunteering in Costa Rica/Nicaragua) are: will I make friends there? Will I like the culture and the lifestyle that others live? Will I feel inferior, humiliated or uncomfortable about not knowing the language that others speak?
For me, any opportunity is worth taking. You will make memories that will last a life time, and one day you will not look back regretting the chances you didn’t but wanted to take. Of course, money is another factor that gets in the way of having this experience. According to CAPA World, an online webpage that explains the “6 biggest study abroad fear”, many have anxiety about not knowing how to budget and running out of money at the other end.
“To not overthink things is the best way to get through fears.”
Health and safety is another common reason, but as long as you get your medical plans sorted before you go abroad, you should try not to let this prevent you from having a truly worthwhile experience. On the website, one person wrote about the ‘FOMO’ (fear of missing out) they were worrying about. However, a forum member, CAPA alumnus Hunter, told the site about their experience: “I have become much more independent since I came back from Australia. I always thought I couldn’t survive without my friends and I thought that I was going to have major FOMO while I was abroad, but that wasn’t the case at all…now that I have seen just a little sliver of the world, I want to see it all and even live abroad within the next couple of years.”
As I took a gap year before university and travelled to three different countries during this time, I can tell you, the above is true. Sharing photos of your experience with friends and family not only inspires them to travel more and to take more risks, but also allows you to see what you yourself have accomplished – to feel proud of yourself for taking all of those chances that you were given, and to make the most of your opportunities.
All I can say is that worries of any kind stop someone from doing what they want. To not overthink things is the best way to get through fears: just do it without thinking about the negatives. After all, your friends and family can always come over and visit.