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Coping with Anxiety While Studying Abroad

by Rebecca Calloway
Traveler at the airport alone

I want to tell you all something. I was diagnosed with extreme anxiety in junior high school.

This limited me to staying home multiple instances and not being comfortable without my mom with me. If I had to do something out of the ordinary, I would break down. Different situations created different problems: crying, not being able to move, not talking, staying in bed, etc.

Of all the things that cause me anxiety, a big one is going to the airport. All aspects of this stress me out: parking, checking baggage, security, finding your gate, and loading the plane. I always feel like I am doing something wrong. I overthink everything; I don’t like to overthink things, but it is natural for me.

While I hate airports, traveling has become energy for my soul. Airports are only a tiny part of the traveling process, and getting to my destination is what I call a success.

When I arrived in London, an optional excursion on my way to Athens, and met some of the girls going through the AIFS program, I knew I had already made lifelong friends. Their enthusiasm for the trip made me even more excited.

Big Ben, London, England

Our one-day trip to London turned out to be a day full of Buckingham Palace, the London Eye, Ben’s Clock, Shakespeare’s Globe, the London Bridge, and more. My study abroad anxiety increased as our travel guide left us after an hour to explore on our own; but my newfound friends treated me like they had known me for years and constantly asked if I was doing all right. Advice: Find those friends and keep them forever.

So, what prompted me to make the decision to study abroad with no one I had previously known? I cannot give you a straight answer, except that my roommate from my home university, Washington State University, planned on studying abroad. I knew how much fun she would have and all the stories she would get to tell when she got home from summer break.

I wanted grand adventures, too. I wanted stories to tell. I wanted new friends from around the world. I wanted a change in culture.

And I want to let you know, it is worth it.

Every second I have spent here has been among the best moments of my entire life. You meet new people, go on spontaneous adventures, and learn about new cultures.

I still have anxiety. I miss out on excursions because of it, but this is who I am. I still encourage you to go on your own and study abroad, crummy circumstances or not.

AIFS Abroad student on a bus in Europe

Be looking for my next blog post on life in Athens!

Your travel bug,


This post was contributed by Rebecca Calloway, who is studying abroad this summer with AIFS in Athens, Greece.

Coping with Anxiety While Studying Abroad | AIFS Study Abroad
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