With the beginning of the new academic year, many of the languages students and others with study abroad opportunities have ventured off to various corners of the world. While some of us are just starting our year abroad adventures, others are mostly settled in their new locations.

I myself study French and Spanish, and I am currently in Argentina, where I will be spending the first semester of my year abroad. Having flown here straight from my study exchange in Australia and a spontaneous trip to Japan, I can truthfully say that the first months of my year abroad have at once been full of the most difficult, and the most rewarding moments, that I have experienced so far.

We have all been dreaming about our year abroad since the start of our degree, and two years later here we are, enjoying finely renowned cuisine from distant places, exploring new cultures and expanding our horizons, whilst improving our chances for success through studying at a foreign university or obtaining professional experience in a foreign language.

“Whether we are in the neighbouring country of France or on the other side of the ocean, all of us are hit by the feelings of loneliness, homesickness and sadness”

Let’s face it, moving to a completely foreign country can be overwhelming and daunting for most (unless you’re a seasoned traveler or used to being on the move). Of course, there are those adventurous individuals for whom a place far away from home naturally feels like a dream come true, but remember that we can all enjoy this dream.

The first days can be tough for anyone. Whether we are in the neighbouring country of France or on the other side of the ocean, all of us are hit by the feelings of loneliness, homesickness and sadness on varying levels.

What’s worse is that jet-lag is making itself felt. Others are immediately saying “what is wrong with you?”, and “you’re travelling, you should be happy”, which makes everything much worse. Let me tell you the truth: our year abroad is amazing and can truly feel like a fairytale coming true.

“We shouldn’t expect to immediately meet friends for life, to fall into an amazing and stimulating routine and have everything work out for us”

However, at times it can feel very different, and it is natural to experience moments of sadness, loneliness or a sense of feeling stuck in one place too far from anything that would be close to our hearts.

It is a PART of it all. It is what strengthens us and makes us appreciate the moments to come.

The worst thing that we do as students is that we expect too much from ourselves, and we set the bar really high. We shouldn’t expect to immediately meet friends for life, to fall into an amazing and stimulating routine and have everything work out for us.

We do need to make it happen, but more naturally and unexpectedly. So let’s take it slow and one step at a time, let’s enjoy the unique time abroad in our own way, without letting others affect us.

This is the time of our lives and all the circumstances whether difficult, happy or exciting (or all) make it worth it in the end.

Sandra Peter

Image courtesy of ‘fdecomite’ via flickr. License here.

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1 Comment

  1. September 28, 2016 at 10:11 — Reply

    Sandra, sounds like you are having an incredible year abroad. As a student who has also studied abroad I completely understand what it means to feel homesick and lonely at times. I reassure you that these are merely teething pains into what will flourish into an incredible experience, which you will remember for the rest of your life.

    The most important aspect of studying abroad is developing your language skills and improving your general awareness of the culture. Centro MundoLengua is a language school based in the south of Spain, which aims to do just that. It seeks to fully-immerse students by providing a thorough cultural orientation, as well as putting you in contact with local Spanish students and families. It offers a wide range of courses for students on their year abroad; these can be anything from a term to a year-long programme, they will tailor everything to suit your requirements.

    Sandra, I wish you all the best for the remainder of your year abroad; I hope you have a great time.

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