Study Abroad: Emotional Stages

Elevate - The Honor Society Magazine
Study Abroad: Emotional Stages
Aug 10,2015

A month before I left for my exchange trip to Australia, I did massive amounts of research. I was so excited to begin my journey that I did all I could to start preparing for it. I mostly read blogs and articles about people who studied abroad and what they discovered while doing it. One of them talked about the emotional stages of studying abroad, going on and on about the initial excitement, the relapse, the plateaus, the sadness of leaving and the culture shock of arriving back home. Honestly, when I first read it, I thought it was stupid and I moved on to the next article. There's no way I'm having anything less than fun. That's not going to be me.

Believe me, I tried my hardest to keep my expectations at a minimum. I've never been to Australia before. How could I have known what would happen unless I just went out and experienced it? Then again, this is Australia we're talking about. I was beyond ecstatic to live in another country for five months, let alone the one country I've been longing to go to for so long. 

But let me tell you something right now: these emotional stages are real. The first couple of weeks, I was in culture shock. I woke up every morning completely in awe that I was on the other side of the world from my friends and family. During orientation and the first week of school, I was thrilled to have met so many new friends and have so many new and life-changing experiences. 

Now, I'm a month into my study abroad journey and I think I've hit the relapse stage. I'm sad for no reason, or at least none that makes sense to me. Of course, I'm missing my mother and father. Whenever I was sad, I could always just go to either one of them and they'd always be willing to listen. Incredible things are happening for my best friend and I'm missing all of it. I can't be there for her. I can't be there for my other best friend who is going through some tough events in her life. When I get back, she'll be moving out and heading off to another state, maybe even another country. It's understandable that I miss home, but it's not exactly the reason why I'm sad.

I just cried for 10 minutes. If I've learned anything from having an eating disorder, it's that it's okay to feel sad and you shouldn't keep it inside. It was a good cry, I feel slightly better now that I'm done. I cried because I keep having these thoughts that I know just aren't true, but they seem real. Nobody here really even likes me. I'm not invited to every single thing other people do, so that must mean they don't like me. All of this makes no sense! Of course I have friends here, and I have had amazing times with them. Why do I feel this way? 

It must also be because I've been ill with a minor cough and sore throat for almost three weeks. I haven't been getting much sleep, or if I do, it hasn't been that effective. It may also be because I'm two weeks into uni and I haven't had the motivation to study or keep up in my courses. It still feels like summer break to me and I keep forgetting the 'study' part of 'studying abroad'. Wait, I'm actually here to learn and not douse myself in partying, spending money and travelling?

This part of studying abroad, I've realized, is inevitable. Some people may have it worse, others may have it better. Even though it may take a few days or maybe even a couple of weeks, the important thing to know is that this feeling will soon fade and everything will be fine. The only thing you can do is talk to someone you trust or write about it and get yourself out of your dorm room, even when it's the last thing you want to do.

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Study Abroad: Emotional Stages

 Study Abroad: Emotional Stages

Study Abroad: Emotional Stages

Study Abroad: Emotional Stages

A month before I left for my exchange trip to Australia, I did massive amounts of research. I was so excited to begin my journey that I did all I could to start preparing for it. I mostly read blogs and articles about people who studied abroad and what they discovered while doing it. One of them talked about the emotional stages of studying abroad, going on and on about the initial excitement, the relapse, the plateaus, the sadness of leaving and the culture shock of arriving back home. Honestly, when I first read it, I thought it was stupid and I moved on to the next article. There's no way I'm having anything less than fun. That's not going to be me.

Believe me, I tried my hardest to keep my expectations at a minimum. I've never been to Australia before. How could I have known what would happen unless I just went out and experienced it? Then again, this is Australia we're talking about. I was beyond ecstatic to live in another country for five months, let alone the one country I've been longing to go to for so long. 

But let me tell you something right now: these emotional stages are real. The first couple of weeks, I was in culture shock. I woke up every morning completely in awe that I was on the other side of the world from my friends and family. During orientation and the first week of school, I was thrilled to have met so many new friends and have so many new and life-changing experiences. 

Now, I'm a month into my study abroad journey and I think I've hit the relapse stage. I'm sad for no reason, or at least none that makes sense to me. Of course, I'm missing my mother and father. Whenever I was sad, I could always just go to either one of them and they'd always be willing to listen. Incredible things are happening for my best friend and I'm missing all of it. I can't be there for her. I can't be there for my other best friend who is going through some tough events in her life. When I get back, she'll be moving out and heading off to another state, maybe even another country. It's understandable that I miss home, but it's not exactly the reason why I'm sad.

I just cried for 10 minutes. If I've learned anything from having an eating disorder, it's that it's okay to feel sad and you shouldn't keep it inside. It was a good cry, I feel slightly better now that I'm done. I cried because I keep having these thoughts that I know just aren't true, but they seem real. Nobody here really even likes me. I'm not invited to every single thing other people do, so that must mean they don't like me. All of this makes no sense! Of course I have friends here, and I have had amazing times with them. Why do I feel this way? 

It must also be because I've been ill with a minor cough and sore throat for almost three weeks. I haven't been getting much sleep, or if I do, it hasn't been that effective. It may also be because I'm two weeks into uni and I haven't had the motivation to study or keep up in my courses. It still feels like summer break to me and I keep forgetting the 'study' part of 'studying abroad'. Wait, I'm actually here to learn and not douse myself in partying, spending money and travelling?

This part of studying abroad, I've realized, is inevitable. Some people may have it worse, others may have it better. Even though it may take a few days or maybe even a couple of weeks, the important thing to know is that this feeling will soon fade and everything will be fine. The only thing you can do is talk to someone you trust or write about it and get yourself out of your dorm room, even when it's the last thing you want to do.