The Joys & Stressors of Preparing to Go Abroad

In 48 days, I will board a plane from my hometown Seattle, Washington bound for London. London is only a connection city as my final destination is Dublin, Ireland, because this spring I will be participating in the Arcadia College Dublin Parliamentary Internship program. I am filled to the brim with excitement over studying and working in a new city for three and a half months, so many friends who have studied abroad before has talked of how life-changing the experience is and I can’t wait to experience it for myself. Each day I wake up in my little apartment here in Madison and I realize that in two months I will be waking up in a different part of the world. While exciting, this realization is also accompanied by a lot of fear and stress.

No one tells you how stressful planning to go abroad can be. 75% percent of the day is spent reading travel blogs and looking at photos of your destination while the other 25% is spent crying because trying to get your shots before traveling proves to be harder than you expected. There is a lot to consider when preparing to travel abroad, but as long as you acknowledge it far in advance there is more than enough time to deal with bumps in the road, such as having to go to a different provider for shots. One way that I have dealt with the stress of getting everything done before going abroad is making a list of all the things I need, and want, to do before I leave for Dublin. If you are someone who can’t stand having lists that take forever to cross off this is probably not for you, but I like being able to see all that I need to do, and for the items that I won’t be able to check off for a while I try to put a date to have it done by. Personally, I took this idea from the My UW Study Abroad page because they give us a checklist of things to do and it was extremely helpful to find a visual.

Even though there are worrying moments, all the stress is forgotten when the excitement kicks in. Almost immediately after I found out I was going to Dublin I started a Pinterest board of all the places I hope to go while abroad. Every night I lay in bed and looks at photos of Dublin and other cities in Ireland dreaming of when I will actually get to see them in person and I get more excited about the journey as a whole. At least once a day when I am walking to class in Madison I find myself envisioning what it will be like to walk to class in Dublin, it amazes me that in less than 50 days I will know what that feels like. For me, each time I get to tell a friend or loved one of my adventure my excitement grows from theirs, I have bought two travel books (Thanks Rick Steves), one for Ireland specifically and another for Europe as a whole to help me prepare for my time abroad. Even reading travel blogs gets me more excited because I get to hear from actual bloggers what their favorite spots are for things such as eating or grabbing a coffee to people watch. Each day brings new excitement about living in a new city halfway across the world so soon.

At the end of the day I try to remind myself not to get too caught up in the stress or the excitement. Those are all things that are going to grow tenfold when I hop on the plane to London and then disappear once I’m in Dublin making friends, seeing the sights, and studying. This trip is something I will only get to experience once and so I am doing my best to take it all in because I know that before I even realize it I’ll be in Ireland and the months will fly by. Writing helps me to put down my experience in words so that someday I can go back and remember what I felt even before I took my first steps in Dublin.