I’m taking a class called “Cross-Cultural Training” before I study abroad next semester. My professor asked us each to write down a few of our fears about studying abroad. There were some pretty funny ones: dying, going missing, being involved in a riot, getting arrested. Well, Ok, they’re not funny; they’re actually quite serious and terrifying. But it reminded me of just how much there is to be afraid of. Pretty much anything can go wrong.
Oh, and I learned a fun fact, courtesy of my professor: many people think American women are “easy”. So, that’s something to look forward to. It actually might be a nice change to here where everyone thinks I’m a prude. Although, honestly, I don’t see this being a problem in England. But I won’t really know till I’m there. My professor actually told those of us going to England that we might experience even worse culture shock than someone going to, say, China because we may assume that England will be very similar to the US because we all speak English.
Anyway, one of my biggest fears about studying abroad is transportation. A little background on me: I’ve never hailed a taxi, I’ve never ridden a public bus or train alone, I’ve never been in a subway station, and I’ve never even set foot in an airport. So, my first time on an airplane will be a 16 hour flight by myself. And then I may have to get a taxi or hop on a train. I don’t know if this sounds terrifying to you, but it sure does to me.
Despite all of the crazy fears that my peers and professor have instilled in me, it was actually really nice to know that we’re all afraid. And, shockingly enough, I’m not the only one who has never traveled overseas! We are all taking a huge step outside of our comfort zone, some more than others, but still a huge step either way. We are all going to experience culture shock, homesickness, loneliness, and fear. Hopefully we’ll also all experience joy, understanding, learning, growing, having fun, and making new friends!