I am not one to be shy towards anxiety. I become anxious at the most menial things, from The Bachelorette season finale to significant things, like getting a job. The worst part about being anxious is not the almost paralyzing feeling of being utterly hopeless, but rather the obvious fact that everyone around you thinks you are completely irrational. At times I seriously worry more about others finding me annoying than I do about the thing I was originally worried about. But lets be honest for a second: we are going to a foreign place, with foreign people, and a foreign concept of what is normal. If this is not the time to be anxious, than I am not sure what is. The following five steps are what I have done in the past and what I am currently doing to alleviate (really distract) my anxiety about going abroad:
Make a list! Lists are a solace. Seriously, write a list and tell me it was not the best decision you made today. Lists allow you to be semi-productive, get you organized, and distract you from how much you actually have to do (if you add some stuff you have already completed and then cross them off, you’ll feel even better). If you do anything to get ready for going abroad, make as many lists as possible. The euphoria and calmness you will feel when all of the items on your lists are crossed off will be unreal.
Buy yourself a new outfit or pair of shoes. I am not one for retail therapy, but buying something that I cannot wait to wear while getting lost in a new place makes me giddy with excitement.
Follow an Instagram account/research pictures of the place you are going. Don’t be afraid to live vicariously through the Internet before you actually get to experience studying abroad. Find things that make you passionate and excited, or places you absolutely have to travel to (more realistically all of the crucial food places).
Reach out to people that have been in your position! Don’t feel lame about contacting past participants or reading blogs about what other people have done. More importantly, don’t let what others have done set your expectations. Make your own expectations based off of what you want, not what others wanted. But, still educate yourself and see to it that you do not fall victim to problems that other people have had.
Listen to everyone when they say how lucky you are. My sisters constantly tell me how much I have ahead of me, and this time I actually listened. Knowing that so many people would love to be in the spot I am in, why not love it myself and take advantage of it?
Overall, no matter what we do or what steps we take we will probably be anxious, but make sure it is the good kind of anxious and not the kind of anxious that holds you back or makes you feel inferior to others.