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Facing My Fears: Why I Took the Leap to Study Abroad

by Kate Ariano

Last Updated on June 9, 2023 by Kate Ariano

College can be scary. But, going to college in a different country… well, I don’t think there are words in the English or Spanish language for that one. And yet, I recently sat alone, absolutely terrified, 11,277 meters in the air, on my way to a 10-week study abroad program at the University of Salamanca.

You guessed it — I’m spending a semester in Spain!

While studying in Salamanca, I’m looking forward to exploring the ways that the world isn’t so different across the pond, while still capturing the beauty that is cultural diversity.

I have always had a passion for writing and documenting other peoples’ stories. After taking beginner level Spanish courses in middle school, I soon realized what kind of doors could be opened and how many new people I could share my passion with if I knew how to write in and speak Spanish. Thus, I began my quest towards a major in Journalism and a minor in Spanish.

Since beginning my freshman year at the University of Connecticut, my plans for my undergraduate education have changed drastically. The whirlwind that is life blows you in different directions—and so does your plan of study—resulting in an earlier-than-anticipated semester in Spain.

The cold hard truth is that there is never a “good time” to travel in college. You can plan your college education down to the minute, but unexpected turbulence will always find its way onto your perfectly planned path. If you want to do something like study abroad, go with your gut; hop on a plane and go.

You should know that any ounce of confidence I exude in this post is a complete façade, as I have already cried more times while abroad than I would like to admit. But as much as I am going to miss my family and the entire fall semester, I know I have to do this — because it scares me. A wise friend told me that if you don’t do things that scare you, then you will probably regret missing out on experiences—and she is so right.

If this sophomore in college who still blubbers at flu shots and has an irrational fear of sinkholes can board a plane by herself and leave home behind to follow a childhood dream, you can, too.

So, let the wind sweep you away to somewhere new. Become a citizen of this world and expand your knowledge about the lives and cultures of others. Make an impact somewhere beyond your college town. If you’re afraid to study abroad, remember: home will always be right where you left it.

College student in Salamanca, Spain | AIFS Study Abroad

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