what they don’t tell you

There is something about studying abroad that bothers me so far.

Before I left Virginia Tech, I had to go to a meeting where all of us who were going to study abroad sometime over the next few months learned about the logistical side of things. Before the logistics discussion, though, a bunch of students who had already studied abroad went up to the microphone to share what they wish they had known before they studied abroad. That the experience would be worth it in the end, that they wish they hadn’t bought their flight to the country as a round-trip ticket so they could take a couple weeks at the end to travel more, and that we were all going to learn so much and that they were excited for us. Yay! The experience of a lifetime is just a few months away!

What they glossed over is how hard it is adjusting to a new culture. How hard it is to miss your parents and family while you are away. How much running around you have to do in the host country in order to study there legally, and how unwelcome you sometimes feel due to the red tape and culture shock.

To be honest, had I known what these first few weeks would have been like beforehand, I might have changed my mind and spent my senior year at VT or just studied abroad for a few weeks during the summer. I am glad I am blogging this, both so I will be able to look back at my reactions to culture shock and homesickness and all and see how much I’ve grown as well as to give fair warning to those students out there wanting to study abroad in another country for an extended period of time. I have already learned a lot. I am not who I was 26 days ago when I arrived. And I am only here for a year. I aim to show what that year is really like. I won’t post every little thing that happens, of course, but not all of these posts are going to be happy. Studying abroad is hard, and since most students hoping to study abroad only get the view from others of how worth it the experience was in the end, I hope to be the voice that shows what the experience is like in the middle, too.

I sincerely hope this story ends with me thinking this experience was worth the trouble and homesickness and stress. But then I look forward to going home and being with my family. I miss them.


One thought on “what they don’t tell you

  1. It sounds like culture shock/studying abroad is difficult in a way that college and grad school are difficult in that if you knew what you know now you might not have started. But also, even if you hear from someone else just how hard it is, you won’t really appreciate that until you get there, and therefore not make any changes to your plans.

    But, all that said, I’m really happy that you are blogging. It sounds like it’s good for you to vent and I like hearing about what it’s like. I hope I get there someday.

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