As my one year anniversary on leaving to go abroad is slowly approaching, I began to think how I was feeling exactly one year ago. For my spring 2017 semester, I chose to study aboard in Prague, Czech Republic. Having bought an entire new wardrobe, new luggage, and new haircut, I began to feel more and more nervous. Was I going to make friends? Will I even like Prague? What if no one likes me? All these questions were running through my head like crazy and even keeping me up at night. I began to worry that I had made a horrible mistake by doing an entire semester abroad and should have just done the summer.
One year later, all I can do is laugh at myself and how silly I was. All of these worrisome thoughts, nerves, and anxieties all disappeared within the first week. Since everyone is in the exact (literally, exact) same situation you are in, you have no other choice but drop the nervousness and be friendly with one another. The people that were in my AIFS group while in Prague are some of my nearest and dearest friends today. I don’t only consider them people I studied abroad with, but rather, lifelong friends. Back in October, I went to Nebraska and Kansas to visit my friends in the Midwest. Never in a million years did I ever think I would be buying a plane ticket to Kansas City. But that is all thanks to going abroad.
A year later, I’m wishing to go back. As I stare at my picture wall from abroad, I can only dream of doing that semester one more time. I regret absolutely nothing besides the fact that I didn’t study abroad for the entire year.
A lot of people say that going abroad changed who they are today and, as cheesy as it sounds, I would have to agree on that statement. Coming home I was surprisingly more confident and stopped to talk to anyone at any point in the day. The day after I returned, my mom and I were grocery shopping and I had a vastly in-depth conversation with one of the cashiers. My mom was so surprised that I had taken such an interest in speaking with the women and said she’s never seen me so interested in other people.
A year later, I’m still ever-so thankful. Thankful to have been able to be a part of a community that isn’t just for four months, but a lifetime. Thankful for all the people I was fortunate enough to meet wherever that was. Thankful for being able to have the experience of a lifetime — to see parts of the world I only ever saw in books or movies.
My one tip for anyone thinking about going abroad but is too scared too or worried about it: don’t be. I can with 100% confidence assure you that by going abroad you are not leaving anything behind, but rather acquiring new knowledge for and about yourself. It is and will be one of the best decisions you could make.