Studying abroad is one of the best decisions that anyone can make during their high school and college years. Days, months, even years of preparation do not necessarily “prepare” you for what is going to happen, but one thing makes the time difference, the travel, the anxiety, the fear, and the stress worth it. What is that one thing you may ask?
On the other side of the world (or however far it may be from home), you find yourself.
I am from Lebanon, Tennessee, a small town about twenty minutes east of Nashville, Tennessee. I have always known that I needed to get out of my hometown and explore the world. It was a hard decision, but it was one I knew I wouldn’t regret. Many people asked the same questions over and over:
“Why do you want to study abroad, can’t you stay here?”
“Why do you want to go to the other side of the world when you have everything you need right here?”
“Are you crazy, you are going all the way to Australia?”
The answer to these seemed to be a lot harder than I thought to come up with, because there is not a solid answer to give. But it made me think, why did I do this? What did this trip mean for me?
After arriving in Australia, I have the answer — self discovery. I am miles upon miles away from everything I know, my home, my friends, and my family, but there is one other thing that I left behind: my old self.
Being in a new place knowing no one, traveling across the world alone, and stepping out of my comfort zone has let me find myself. I have become stronger, independent, confident in myself, and am still learning. Somehow on the other side of the world, I am learning about myself, finding my true meaning and purpose, and recreating my identity.
Now it is time to write your own story similar to mine. If you are thinking about studying abroad, you will be asked the same questions I stated above and plenty more, but now you may have insight into the answer, or you may have an answer of your own. Wherever your destination may be, don’t let fear get in the way of exploration. Your emotions will slowly fade, but the memories you will make will last forever.
Be strong in your decisions, no matter where you may be in the world. Allow your soul to wander, allow your mind to stay open, and allow your heart to love the location you travel to. These are only a few ways to put the past in the past, start new, and begin your own journey to find your true meaning, where you belong.
On the other side of the world, I am finding myself.
On the other side of the world, don’t be afraid to leave everything you know behind and find yourself too.