Studying abroad is a big decision that can raise a number of worries, concerns and fears. During the decision making process, students may feel like they are alone in their worries. Bianca Guerrero, one of our study abroad student bloggers, shares some of her pre-departure worries and how she overcame them.
“If you are anything like me, then choosing to study abroad is a big decision. You may worry about deciding if you want to take a trip to a place where the way of life is unfamiliar. It’s terrifying to say the least, but it is also incredibly exciting.
I had a lot of worries and concerns when deciding to study abroad in Barcelona. Looking back, I realized that all the worries I had were never real issues during my trip at all! Therefore, I want to share some of my worries with you and dispel any of your fears:
“I don’t know anyone, what if I make no friends and I spend my whole trip alone.”
Studying abroad is a big step out of your comfort zone. Don’t worry – a lot of the other students will be in the same boat as you. You should remember that a lot of other people are going on this trip alone and want to make friends as well! If you’re being friendly and are allowing yourself to be open to new people from the beginning, you will make friends in no time. Roommates are also your built-in guaranty that you will always have someone to hang with. Whether it’s going to school together, grabbing lunch, or shopping – my personal favorite.
Students who choose to study abroad are ready to meet new people, whether it’s students from your program, or friendly locals. These are the people that you are going to share lifelong memories with, and you will make beautiful connections and friendships that last a lifetime. You have nothing to worry about. You will make friends and you won’t spend your whole trip alone.
“I’ve never used public transportation before!”
In most large cities, public transportation is usually the fastest and cheapest way to get around the city. I live in Southern California where most people have their own car as a means of transportation. As a result, I have never needed to use public transportation. I was extremely nervous and excited to use the “Metro,” the subway system in Barcelona. I was surprised how easy it was considering how inexperienced I was at using public transportation.
There are plenty of train maps at each Metro station but I think that the easiest way to figure out how to get to your destination is to download Metro App on your cell phone. You can also try to memorize the route you need to take. Yes, I’ll admit that at first I did get onto the wrong trains. After a few weeks, you will be a ‘Metro Master’ and will be able to get anywhere in the city using public transportation.
“The city is so big what if I get lost!”
Yes, the city is big. Yes, you may get lost. No, it’s not the end of the world. Barcelona is a relatively small city compared to cities like New York or Los Angeles. I like to think of getting lost as ‘unexpected exploring’, and I usually stumble upon a part of the city I never knew existed! At times, it may be frustrating and scary. But don’t worry – getting lost is part of the journey, and completely normal when you are in an unfamiliar city.
There are ways to avoid getting lost. I usually lookup the address of my destination on my laptop and figure out my route before I leave my apartment. This way I will be familiar with the area I need to get to before I get to it. It takes time to really get to know an entire city. With a great deal of patience and through lots of unexpected exploring, you will eventually be able to find your way around as a true local.
“This is so far away from home – I’m going to get really homesick.”
Choosing to go to Community College meant that I have lived at home my whole life. Studying abroad and living on my own for the very first time in an unfamiliar city was both exciting and frightening! I was scared that I would feel lonely and miss my family and friends. However, once arriving in Barcelona all those fears quickly disappeared! I honestly didn’t have any time to feel homesick! I was either busy with school, homework, hanging out with my roommates, study abroad field trips and activities. Life in the city is ‘GO GO GO’ and you always have something to do. If you are worried about getting homesick, just remember that your family are just a face time away.
‘I’ve never lived on my own before.’
Living on your own is a big responsibility and may be very challenging to get accustomed to at first. Living on your own means no one is going to clean your room. No one is going to make you breakfast in the morning or dinner at night. No one is even going to go grocery shopping for you – it is all on you! Although this can be scary for someone who has lived at home their whole life, it is also a great experience to step out of your parent’s care, and to step closer to adulthood.
Money management is key when you are living on your own, and isn’t very difficult if you are being responsible with your money. Food in Barcelona is relatively inexpensive in comparison to California. I typically would go grocery shopping once a week and prepare my meals ahead of time. Along with cooking your own food, you also must be respectful to your roommates – that means cleaning up your own mess. Tidying up after yourself is an easy way to avoid issues with your roommates and help your apartment stay clean. Overall living on your own is a big responsibility, but you have to learn sooner or later. What better place to do it than on a study abroad program?
I know that there are a lot of worries, fears and concerns that come along with studying abroad. If you are willing to step out of your comfort zone, do some unexpected exploring and take on new responsibility then you should do it! Studying abroad is an amazing experience to travel the world while still getting college credits. Although there may be times when your fears creep up on you, just know that you will be having too much fun to acknowledge it!
This content was contributed by Bianca Guerrero one of our student bloggers. She is studying abroad this Spring on an AIFS Customized Faculty-Led program in Barcelona, Spain through the Southern Californian Foothills Consortium.