In my attempt to procrastinate from packing and all the things that I’ve got to get done in the next four days before I leave, I find it’s a perfect time to reflect on the popular non-rhetorical questions and comments that I’ve been asked countless times (not that it’s a problem). These are actually things that come into play when considering studying abroad. So, after having time to think and reflect on these questions, here are my responses to anyone who asked.
1. “You are going to be so homesick” and “I can’t believe you’re going to be away from family, friends, IU, and the US for so long”
This has especially hit home for me as I am getting closer and closer to leaving. I’ve spent the last few weeks with family and friends. It’s made me realize that everyone has their own opinion on me studying abroad which range from excitement, interest, and then some who question it for the reason above. It’s true, for someone who has never truly been outside of the US nor been too far from family and friends, it’s a tough concept to get used to. However, just because I’ll be gone for so long doesn’t make me all of a sudden regret me desire to study abroad. Yes, I’ll miss everything I’m leaving behind but I will enjoy everything that’s to come.
2. “Are you excited?”
This is probably the most stereotypical rhetorical question that everyone asks when you’re embarking on a new experience, going on a trip, or doing something different. In my case, studying in Spain is all of these. I’ve never been to Europe; I’m spending close to four months in Spain; and I’ll be in a country where English isn’t spoken as the main language. So, of course I’m excited for the first two parts, who wouldn’t be? I’m going to be having an experience of a lifetime studying and living in Europe for a semester. I’ll get to see different places and things. But, then the third part comes into play. The fact that I’ll be in a foreign country makes me nervous and worried. It’s made me consider the next question I get.
3. “Are you prepared?”
This I think goes hand in hand with the last one. I am ready, but I don’t know if I’m prepared. I’m ready to go and excited but I’ve not started packing, in the process of trying to get everything ready to leave and seeing as many of my family and friends as possible. Am I prepared for the culture shock, dealing with speaking and hearing Spanish the entire time (which results in probably having to translate everything back and forth), or the homesickness? I don’t know that answer. I’ve had so many people tell me the answers or tips to get around these issues, but I won’t know until I’m done.
Like I said, these questions and others come with the territory of anything new or exciting. However, don’t let these questions or your answers deter you from studying abroad or that exciting event. It’s going to be interesting for sure, but here’s what I want to accomplish (in no particular order):
- Become as fluent as possible in Spanish
- Not be afraid of the cultural and language barrier
- Try not to fall back into “American” things and branch out of my comfort zone
- Soak up the Andalusia charm and culture (Spain’s culture in general as well)
- Get good grades (which I’m constantly reminded of by my mother)
- Learn new things
- See the world
- Have fun
With these goals, I feel like it’s going to help me not worry about any of the questions I’ve been asked and help me have the best time abroad.