In my abroad experience thus far, I have noticed a common mindset among other international students. They look at studying abroad as another item on a checklist. Something to mark off before they enter the “real world”. They say that this is just a four month vacation of sorts before they get back to their difficult studies, internship, or five year plan. These are frightening conversations to have, especially when you have the creeping suspicion you are the only one really floundering. During these interactions I would recommend taking a step back, a deep breath, and reminding yourself that five year plans are absolute fantasy. Life is not clear cut and smooth. You can make the most specific to do list and still have some gigantic roadblock get in your way, and break your leg. Although our time abroad is certainly temporary, it would be an awful shame to look at it with such little value. Your study abroad experience should not only be another line on your resume.
This is your life. There is no “real world” after graduation. Our responsibilities change over time and evolve, but this is it. People will throw around the phrase “best time of your life” to describe a semester abroad or even college in general. There is no best time of your life. This is your life, every wonderful, terrible, moment of it. If you are like me, completely lost, do not panic. I will be returning to my home university for the spring semester having no clear idea what I want to do with my degree. I certainly do not have a five year plan or even a two year plan. There has not been a huge epiphany this semester, revealing to me exactly what path I should take. It would be silly to expect one. But I can say that studying abroad has brought me more independence, and a sense of peace knowing that there is so much out in the world. The truth is I like not knowing what will happen tomorrow. I fully embrace this period of being lost. I am not waiting to find my way. This is my life and I am taking every second of it in. I suggest you do the same. I know that I love to write. I know that I love to travel. I know that I never want to stop exploring, and I know that there are many people that I love near and far. For now that is enough.
Your Discovery. Our People… The World Awaits.