7 Things You Will Feel Before Going Abroad

Leaving home is a huge step. Monumental. In order to make it through, realize that an emotional roller coaster is OK. It’s healthy even. To make the most of your time abroad, get in touch with yourself. Understand the following emotional stages are key to success abroad.

1. Indecision

It’s okay to take a long time to figure out if something is right for you. It means you care. It means you’re making the best decision for yourself as possible. The indecision and confusion at this point are normal, but try to move past them. If you’re like me, deciding what you want for lunch is hard enough. Deciding where to live for months on end? Ufda.

Some ideas to help:

  • Make a pros and cons list
  • Sit in a dark room and stare at a wall
  • Spend time journaling and understanding yourself
  • Think about your personality, what would help you grow?
  • Realize the difference between fear of the unknown and something that is bad for you

2. Excitement

So you’ve chosen that you want to go, and possibly even where you want to go. This is incredibly exciting… Scouring the internet to search beautiful places to travel. Wondering who your new friends will be. Thinking of how you will reinvent/rediscover yourself. The adrenaline of such excitement lasts for weeks; it’s when you can feel like you made the right choice and don’t have to really think of the specifics of what leaving really means.

3. Denial

You know where you’re going, but you still have a life to live in the present moment. Knowing you are leaving may make you subconsciously love and appreciate everyone around you even more. You may find yourself detaching from others, or growing closer due to the pending separation. This goes on behind the scenes, this sudden realization of how wonderful life is already and how much you don’t want it to change. You go to college, spend time with friends, go on dates, do everything the exact same as before you made the incredible decision. It’s easier to ignore what’s to come and focus on how great life is now.

4. Crazy (AKA The Freak Out Stage) 

You will wonder: did I choose the right thing? Did I just make an incredible mistake? You may realize you love your life just as it is and don’t want to be separated from your loved ones. Refer to the indecision stage and realize you did what you could with the knowledge you had. Look at your old notes, think back to the excitement you once felt at this great new adventure. Most importantly, let yourself freak out. As many times as needed. But not so much that it obsessively takes over your life and makes you unable to enjoy your remaining days at home OR your time abroad.

5. Sad

Whether you’ve already left the country or are moping around in the comfort of your life at home, sadness permeates. Everything reminds you of what’s back home, or what you love about your old life. You feel alone, isolated, unsure. It’s been years since you felt so hopeless and lost. Will I find as many good friends abroad? Will my relationship make it through? The unknown is the scariest and saddest thing, and there’s nothing that can be done to take it away. A tip from me: cry about it. Let yourself be sad. But when the opportunity comes to hang out with your friends from home one last time, take it. And when the opportunity arises to meet people abroad, do your best to smile.

6. Numb

If you don’t feel, it can’t hurt. Terrible motto, but it makes sense. This is bound to happen, but don’t get lost to it.

7. Hopeful

The people you love are the people you love for a reason. They will be there when you return. They are your support system. Look around, at home and abroad, and FEEL HOPEFUL. There is so much out there to explore and discover. You can’t find those places hiding in bed. You can’t feel the overpowering emotions of the Italian scenery while blocking out your feelings. Let in your worst fears to generate your best outcomes. Besides, there are many people you’ve yet to meet who will have such an impact on your life. And that is the most hopeful of all.

These seven emotions/stages will happen, but when they hit will be different for everyone. Personally, I went through all seven more than once. The last four happened before and after I arrived in Italy. The important thing to remember is to let them happen. You may feel unstable and insecure, but if you let yourself feel all of these, you will find yourself.

5 thoughts on “7 Things You Will Feel Before Going Abroad

  1. Lindsey,

    This will be a great adventure for you. Our son spent a semester of school in Australia and he woulld be the first to say that that was the best experience ever. Enjoy every minute!

    Pat Kilber


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