How I Kept Cool Before Studying Abroad
Studying and living abroad was a dream that I’ve had for as long as I can remember, but as my date of departure for the University of Glasgow crept closer, I found that my excitement for living in Scotland was overtaken by my worries about leaving. What classes will I take there? Will I make any friends? What am I going to do when I inevitably miss home? How am I supposed to fit my entire winter/spring wardrobe into one suitcase??? For me, the best way to combat these haunting questions was to make the most of my time with my family and friends, who provided me with the comfort and support that I needed to keep cool.
One of my favorite moments was before I moved out of my dorm at Connecticut College when my boyfriend and I held our own Christmas. We set up a little fake tree and adorned it with flickering electric candles, then sat on the floor next to it and presented each other with gifts. My favorite is the photo book he made, which I’m able to flip through anytime I feel homesick.
I’m used to having a lot of time between the holidays and the start of the spring semester, but this year I had to leave for Scotland on January 1st. I felt like I didn’t have much time to spend at home with my family before departing, which was upsetting because we’re so close. Even though I normally live at college, I’m only an hour away from home so if I ever get homesick, I could always just go back. I’m really grateful that my family has been so supportive of me going on this trip and even though I don’t have the option of just going home anymore, I’m glad I taught them about all of the different video chat options for when I miss them.
There’s no doubt, I’ll miss this little guy most of all. In this picture, Gryffin is using all of my ready-to-pack clothes as a bed, which obviously means he doesn’t want me to go. When faced with the seemingly impossible task of packing for an entire semester, the one thing that helped me more than anything were VACUUM BAGS. Make sure to get the kind that has both a nozzle for the vacuum and a way for you to squeeze the air out yourself if you haven’t got access to a vacuum when you’re packing up abroad. Keep in mind, less space does not equal less weight, which is why I opted for two suitcases. This way I have more space to pack things that I’ll buy abroad! Just make sure you can navigate through the airport with both!
After 6 hours of trying desperately to sleep on the plane, it was a relief to see the little lights of Edinburgh below me. At that point, I was too tired to be nervous and the plane was quiet enough to let me think through all of the anxieties I had. Homesickness, culture shock, stress from school – everyone that’s studying abroad will experience these things, and even though I didn’t know any of my fellow IFSA group members yet, I knew that we were all going through the same things and that we’d be there to support each other.