Six Fears Most People Have Before Studying Abroad and How To Conquer Them
If you’re umming and ahhing about making that leap to study abroad, I can bet you have a whole list of reasons why you shouldn’t go stacked up in your head. I get it, travelling, especially alone, is scary and not for everyone. But take it from someone who has done it before (and has been solo travelling for the past eight months!), the world isn’t as scary as you think! Here are some ways you can conquer your fears, and how I overcame mine.
This is always a number one priority for most people, and being a female travelling solo, it’s always at the back of my mind. The sad truth is you’re not 100% safe anywhere, you could get scammed or attacked abroad, but this could also happen in your hometown. Of course, have your wits about you and take safety precautions when you need to. But I wouldn’t let this fear stop you from being where you want to be.
I never go to a country before I have taken the time to research it thoroughly. I look at the best hostels in terms of safety and location with honest ratings from real people and I make sure I know exactly what I’m getting myself into. If that means paying a little extra for an all-female dorm then I’ll do it. Most of it is basic street smarts, I don’t get drunk around people I don’t know, I stay in popular areas and am aware of my surroundings. But I don’t let this fear control my travelling. Make sure you are preparing, do your research and let a loved one know where you are staying at all times.
Money Running Out
If you fear that you will run out of money halfway through your trip then it means you haven’t saved enough to go on your trip. I know it’s hard to stay and work in a crappy job while you’re saving for your trip of a lifetime when you just want to go already. But take it from someone who actually had run out of money halfway through their trip, it’s better to just do an extra couple of months of double shifts and be secure enough in your funds that you know you won’t run out.
An alternative is getting a side hustle while abroad. It really isn’t that hard to find a little extra cash while in a different country. There’s blogging, article writing, selling your old clothes or selling some art online.
Remember, you might be eligible for an OS-HELP loan which will be more than enough to cover your flight and most of your travel expenses. Check out if you’re eligible here.
Try not to see getting lost as a bad thing, but rather an exciting thing! Plenty of times I have caught a wrong train or walked the wrong way and found a new café, a hidden waterhole or old temple. Try not to rush so much to your destination but just enjoy all the little hidden gems you’ll find along the way. Besides, Google Maps is a thing, if that fails asking the locals never does! Losing your way is a part of the adventure, if you don’t get lost while travelling, I will be convinced you never even travelled at all!
There is no cure for homesickness and there is no way to stop it from happening. You are going to miss home and it’s something you’re going to have to deal with. It’s the downside of travelling, everyone’s lives back home carry on without you and you might feel left out. The good thing about the modern era is Facebook and Facetime exist! So keeping in touch is simple and quick. Besides, the best cure for homesickness is to embrace your new surroundings! Go exploring, try new food, take lots of photos and try to have as many unique and amazing experiences as you can. You’ll be having so much fun with your adventures that you won’t have time to miss everyone back home!
The Language Barrier
I spent a month in Spain not knowing a word of Spanish (that’s not for lack of trying though) and I managed just fine. Yes, it’s much harder to get by when you don’t know the common tongue, but taking the time to learn a few common phrases will help you out more than you know. The simple but ever so effective “Sorry, I don’t speak [enter language here]” is always a good one should be enough to get help from a local. We have more ways of communicating than with just words. Hand gestures, body language and a smile will make both you and the native speaker feel more at ease as you tackle the conversation.
The Bottom Line
This list could go on and on of all the fears of study abroad, it’s normal to feel some worry or nerves about the unknown, but that’s how you know you’re doing something challenging and worthwhile. I promise that when you’re there in this new country, taking in all the incredible sights and making memories, you’ll be thankful you took that scary leap into the unknown.
Feeling inspired and ready to conquer your fears? Find out more about how you can begin your study abroad journey, check out our programs here!
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