Dealing with Pre-Departure Study Abroad Doubt

By Brittany Hawes on July 14, 2018

Studying abroad is likely to be one of the greatest adventures you’ll experience as a college student.  However, it might be difficult for many students (especially those without much travel experience) to get over that initial study abroad doubt before your departure.

Making the decision to study abroad instead of staying in your home country is, without a doubt, a big choice you’re going to want to make. You’ll be spending an entire semester away from your friends and family, in a new place that’s literally thousands of miles from the university you’re enrolled at. It’s a scary yet exciting thought! However, that fear of the unknown can lead to pre-departure study abroad doubt.

pre departure study abroad doubts

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A lot of students might find themselves getting a tad bit worried about certain aspects of studying abroad. Many are afraid of being so far away from their loved ones for this length of time. Others are afraid of missing out on “making connections” back at your campus in your home country. Some students might be afraid that the culture in your host country might be too different or you to grow accustomed to, or that you won’t be able to communicate effectively with the native townspeople. These little fears and worries can dig into your exciting plans and wrack you with doubt.

Don’t let pre-departure jitters force you to miss out on the opportunity of a lifetime! Many of these fears may hold some truth to them, but that doesn’t mean that you should skip out on the trip. In fact, these study abroad doubts might be why you need to face this trip head-on.

Here are some simple and helpful measures that you can take that will help you to combat study abroad doubt.

1. Talk to your family and friends about your means of communication while you’re overseas

It’s tough. Homesickness while you’re studying abroad is a real thing. Your mind is going to want to wonder about them almost every single day and take guesses as to what everyone’s getting up to while you’re away. However, it’s not healthy to dwell on what’s going on back home when you should be focused on having an amazing time, right where you are at.

Before you leave to study abroad, make concrete plans for checking in with the people you’ll be leaving behind for the next couple of months. You don’t want to constantly be checking in with your mom and dad 24/7. Put your mind (and your loved ones’ minds) at ease by setting up specific times during the week that you’ll be able to video chat. Be aware of the time differences that exist between your host and home countries and plan accordingly. Setting up designated days to talk will help you curb the need to keep checking in on your family. The homesickness that many students that study abroad feel can be fought away using this technique.

2. Learn the language … or just the bare necessities

Nothing gets you immersed in a foreign country’s culture quite like learning its primary language. Navigating becomes a breeze when you’re able to properly read street signs, store logos, billboards, and advertisements. If you don’t have enough time to learn the language fully, you can always pick up the basic from a common phrasebook or translating device.

Learning the language will help you feel like you haven’t landed in alien territory where everything is strange and nothing makes sense. You’ll be afforded many, many more opportunities (new friends, new destinations, new activities) if you take the time to learn the language.

3. Remember why you’re interested in studying abroad in the first place

People suffering from pre-departure study abroad doubt might find themselves focusing more on their fears rather than the things that made them interested in studying abroad in the first place. Push away all of those gnawing doubts for now and recall the reasons why you want to study abroad. Do you love to travel? Or have you never traveled before, so this is finally your big chance?

Whatever your reason may be, put those positive reasons at the forefront of your mind and focus on them.

4. Think of how disappointed you’ll be in yourself if you don’t go

Don’t talk yourself out of studying abroad only to spend a boring semester on campus in your home country, where you’re constantly wondering “what if?”. If you chicken out, or let your fears get the best of you, you’re only robbing yourself of a great and exciting opportunity to have an out-of-the-ordinary adventure overseas.

5. Start yourself a travel blog

Whenever I’m getting ready to do something big (or something that I will easily talk myself out of doing), I’ll create a blog on it. Why not do the same with your study abroad experience?

Literally thousands of people run blogs dedicated to traveling. Add your own voice to the mix by creating a bog that’s all about your study abroad experience, then share that experience with the rest of the world. I guarantee you that a blog will get you pumped for traveling and fight away that study abroad doubt.

Pre-departure study abroad doubt is a common thing among students. Hopefully, with these tips, you’ll be able to beat it and get on your way to your next big adventure!

Hi there! My name's Britt and I'm a senior majoring in English major at Florida State University. I have these crazy, big dreams of traveling the entire world and writing novels in my spare time. I love music, food, and the Japanese culture. I plan on teaching English in Japan upon graduation from Florida State. My first YA novel, Twisted, was published by Deep Sea Publishing Company in 2014. It won a Readers' Favorite Book Award that same year. Alongside schoolwork, I'm working hard on the second book in the Twisted series as well as a number of other novels.

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