Natalie Rohman

A Chicago Girl Paving Inspiration

Bon Voyage! How I'm Mentally Preparing for Study Abroad in Europe

As I begin to prepare for what seems like a trip of a lifetime, I literally today have started getting everything I need and packed. Honestly, packing is one of my favorite things to do, but one of my largest pitfalls because I overpack SO much. The places I'm going to, France, the Netherlands, and Spain for three weeks are all going to be pretty warm during the day, but I still can't rely on just my knowledge of Chicago weather and think that all countries get extremely hot days next to extremely cold and rainy ones. 

This trip has required me to do some research and a lot of asking around to see what other people's experiences were like travelling abroad. I got a lot of mixed information from a lot of sources based on personal preferences, ages, time of the year travelling, and just an overall consensus that travelling is really dependent on many factors and is different for everyone. My feelings toward studying abroad is mostly excitment, mixed with a little bit of nerves, but I think it's all normal and my attitude about it all is go with the flow and open to trying new things. 
For one thing I really don't know how I am going to be on an eight hour flight, but it has to be better than a 21 hour bus ride to Florida. The excitment of going and getting there will make it all feel fast. I would say I am a pretty good traveler, but going in a big group can be overwhelming at times just based on the fact that we all need to work seamlessly together. 

Being with a group of students can really relieve discomfort and I am grateful that I have a big group to relate to and get to know more. To be honest, I have already connected with some of the girls in our class. I'm sure that I will come back with new friendships. You know while traveling with a lot of people can ease the feeling of homesickness, I also really like to keep to myself at times. I know we have packed schedules each day, but sometimes all I want to do is chill out and not worry about other people. Pacing myself in this aspect will be necessary if I'm going to need times to reboot during the trip.

I have the expectation that all is going to be great, but I also have expectations that there will be times that I feel sad, confused, distraught, lost, etc. Being in a new place, for an extended period of time with people I hardly know yet, can bring up these feelings and I want to make sure that my headspace doesn't dwell on these things because I am there to enjoy every minute of the trip and make the most out of everything available to me. Embracing the sense of the unknown, figuring out how to navigate, and adapting to new social sitations will be a test for me. 
I know there are many people who have already travelled to a ton of different countries and probably remember the first time they traveled abroad for the first time, too. I don't really know what to expect, how everything is going to go, but the people that have made this possible at my college really know what they're doing and are well experienced in it. 

The emotions I have are totally normal and I think I am more than ready to have this experience. As I am writing this now, within a week I will be away and my plans for blogging are going to be on hold as I take in everything I can while I'm away. I will be documenting my travel and of course, sharing a post about it as soon as I get back in early July. 

When I think about all the things that could happen, I try to remember that fear is probably the main factor that pulls people away from experiencing the world and going beyond what they know. I really want to travel as much as I can and that takes a lot of strength and mind power to do, but I know it will all be worth it in the end. Let me know what your travel plans are this summer! I can't wait to tell you all about it. 

Bon Voyage! 

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