This summer, on June 16, I will be stepping into LAX airport to begin my flight across the Pacific Ocean to South Korea for a study abroad program hosted by CSUSB.
Ever since I came to CSUSB and learned about the opportunities for studying abroad, I told myself that I would make it happen. It seems like such an amazing experience.
Cherelle Ross, another student going to the South Korean program, sums up why this is such an amazing opportunity well.
“I decided to study abroad because I really love traveling and I hope I can do it non-stop in the future,” said Ross.
I have always wanted to travel as well and studying abroad is a wonderful way to see the world.
According to the United States Department of State’s data, only 325,339 students studied abroad during the 2015-2016 school year, which is only a minuscule amount for the whole country.
I realize that I am in a very privileged position by being able to go but, I can not help but feel a little anxious, even if I am excited to overcome the difficulties I will face.
The closer it gets to the day I will be departing, the more turbulent my emotions become. I am going back and forth between excitement and fear. Excitement over all the wonderful experiences I will have and fear of all the uncertainty and everything that could go wrong.
It is strange how everyday life goes on normally with classes and work but with each passing day, the feelings get more and more intense.
Do I have enough clothes? Will I remember everything? What if the experience is not as magical as everyone says it will be?
Most students who are about to leave to study abroad have these thoughts and feelings, so I know I am not alone. However, it still makes concentrating on classes harder.
Perhaps the largest challenge, for me at least, is the idea of leaving the area and home I have known my entire life and having to adapt to an entirely new culture and country.
I have never left the country before, I have barely left the San Bernardino and Riverside counties if I am being honest, so the idea of being in a country halfway across the world with their own culture and language is daunting.
However, I do not want it to seem like I am unhappy about the difficulties of studying abroad. I am in fact extremely grateful to be able to face these challenges.
The flyers and websites for studying abroad never accurately paint how difficult studying abroad can be, they just focus on the positives. The fact that it is difficult is a positive.
When we overcome challenges, we grow as people, and with how challenging studying abroad can be it is an amazing opportunity for character growth.
As much uncertainty as there will be trying to survive in Korea without almost any knowledge of Korean, overcoming it will prove just how capable I am.
Of course, for every challenge there will also be an amazing experience: for every time I get lost on the Korean subway, there will be a fireworks festival on the beach or a stay at a mountaintop temple.
For anyone that is preparing to study abroad but is feeling nervous about it, you are not alone. For anyone who is thinking about studying abroad but is afraid of the difficulty, it is difficult, but if I am strong enough to handle it I know you are too.