Overcoming Personal Issues While Abroad

Rachel Gischia is a student at the Grand Valley State University and an ISA Featured Blogger. She is currently studying abroad with ISA in Athens, Greece.

Everyone has personal issues. Whether it is a family member’s health, a relationship with a significant other, or self confidence, everyone experiences it. Maybe you started the trip in a good state of mind, but in meeting new people you realize some things about yourself. Either you get jealous of others, or you try to act “cool” so people like you. There are numerous examples I could give. This all happens for a reason, and studying abroad may give you the opportunity to work on these issues. Here are a few steps you can follow to guide you through these personal issues and truly experience your studies abroad.

First of all, acknowledge you have an issue, or multiple. Do not deny having problems or difficulties. Maybe take an hour or so to think and evaluate what is going on with yourself and your life. What might be causing these internal struggles? Is it something abroad? Or something back home? Is it something that needs to be acknowledged further?

Second, decide if you have the desire to change something. Decide whether you want to deal with these personal issues right now, or maybe you are not ready yet. Are these difficulties holding you back? Are they inhibiting you from making friends? Are they affecting your studies? Are they restricting your full experience abroad?

Next, tell someone. Open up to someone who is a good listener and cares about you. Tell them how you are feeling and what you are thinking. Let them know what exactly you are struggling with. This is one of the hardest steps. Especially if the issues you are dealing with are extremely personal. This step will also make you the strongest. It takes a brave person to express how they are truly feeling.

Maybe you do not have a person in your life to tell things to. Maybe, right now, you are alone in the situation and feel like you do not have someone to truly talk to. I suggest going to the counseling services at your school. Every college has them, whether you are in the states or not. This is the counselor’s job. They are there to help you and listen to you. Or you could keep a journal. Write down exactly how you feel about your struggles and be honest with yourself. You will not grow if you do not tell the whole truth.

The last step is trying to change, grow, and fully deal with your issues. If it is a sick family member who you are worried about, call them every week. Write them letters. If it is a relationship you are struggling with, confront the person and let them know exactly how you are feeling. Try to change something in the relationship to make it better and easier for the both of you. If it is self confidence, maybe try daily affirmations in your journal. Or challenge yourself once a day to build confidence and step outside of your comfort zone.

There are solutions to everything. Even personal issues that might seem impossible. It is ten times harder to deal with something personal when you are across the world from everyone who has ever cared about you. That is why you need to act on these difficulties and start the process of being okay again. You need your abroad experience to be memorable and positive. If you let your personal issues get in the way of that you will regret it. It is time to acknowledge, decide, come clean, change, and grow. You can do it.

The world awaits…..discover it!

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