just give it a few days…

This is really hard. I knew it was going to be difficult and uncomfortable at times, but I didn’t know how stressful and lonely it would be too. Do people who study abroad talk about this often, or do they only talk about the good things? Does everyone react like this? Is it a lot easier for some than for others?

I laid in bed the first night in my dorm room trying to get some much-needed sleep after the day Emma and I had. I was overcome with anxiety and felt the stress of the day come crashing down on me. I felt it all, but mostly I just felt lonely. I wanted to be at home cuddling my pets and binge-watching Netflix on the couch with my mom. Or in Madison with my roommates beginning the first week of spring semester classes. The one place I did not want to be was an ocean away from pretty much everything I knew and loved. It was hard. Really hard. I reached out to the girls I was travelling with for their advice and some friends that have been abroad before. They said what I knew was true, but had a hard time believing in the moment. “It takes time, just give it a few days.” But it was hard even thinking about the next hour, let alone the next few days, when I was feeling the weight of everything at once.

In a month I’m sure I’ll be giving people the exact same advice. I’ll say it was hard at first but if you give it a few days it gets better. And I do know that it will. It will get better, but it’s still scary. I’ve been planning this for so long and now it’s actually happening. I knew there would be rough spots, but I wasn’t expecting to feel the way I am feeling now. If someone walked through my door and told me I could hop on the next plane home right now, I would probably take them up on that offer.

So yes, I will give it a few days. And yes, I’m sure by this time tomorrow I will be feeling entirely different feelings. But for now, it’s hard. And I’m going to let myself feel everything that comes with that. Uprooting your life, your entire routine, living in a country you’ve never been to with people you never met and trying to overcome the language barrier in the process? All of that is so hard. I don’t even have pillows or sheets on my bed yet. I’m sleeping on a balled-up sweatshirt for a pillow with a scarf and winter coat as my blankets. This doesn’t feel like home. This doesn’t feel like happiness to me right now. This feels sad and lonely and empty. A year ago at this time, I was working on finding myself again after going through some rough things. Today, I’m still working on that, but I know the strength is there. Of course it’s there. I’ve never doubted that. Of course I’ll move on from this sadness and be okay. But for now, I just need to accept that I’m sad and that I feel stuck. Stuck in this room, stuck in this city, and stuck feeling this way. Accepting these feelings is a lot easier than trying to push them away or trying to act like they don’t exist at all. So here I am, giving it a few days but also being open with the feelings that I currently have because I think it’s important to talk about these parts too. Just so you know, it’s really hard.

2 thoughts on “just give it a few days…”

  1. Hi Olivia!

    You definitely aren’t the only one who feels this way. Both times I studied abroad, I had similar experiences-the adjustment period is really hard!
    For me, what was the most helpful was making my new living situation and my new city feel like home. After buying bedding and putting a few photos on the wall, things started to look a little brighter. Picking out a favorite coffee shop and corner store to frequent also helped me feel more comfortable in the new place. So I think you have the right idea-after giving it a few days, I’m sure you will feel differently.

    Thank you for sharing this! I think it is so important to not just share the good things about studying abroad, but the bad things too. Uprooting your whole life for a semester is a huge challenge, and while it’s not easy, I hope you’ll find it to be worth it.

  2. Hey Olivia!

    I saw your blog post and just wanted to drop-in to say it gets better (cliche I know, and definitely not what you want to hear I’m sure). The first few days in particular are the most overwhelming roller coaster of emotions I think I’ve ever experienced in my life (I cried for about 3 days when I first got to my location). I was tired, scared, lonely (I got to my location 3 days before everyone else had arrived, so I was exploring London all by myself, in a country I’d never been to, on my first trip I’d ever done by myself). This is a big step you’re taking so it is completely normal to be feeling the way you are. But what I love about you, is what you said in your post “for now it’s hard, and I’m going to let myself feel everything that comes with that.” This is the bravest thing anyone can do for themselves when they’re in your situation and it’ll make your experience that much more memorable. So when you need to cry, cry, if you’re scared, feel scared, if you’re sad, feel sad, if you’re happy, feel happy, whatever you’re feeling, FEEL IT!! It doesn’t matter where you are or what you’re doing, letting yourself feel these things can help you get through the tough times you may experience throughout your abroad experience, but it gives you the opportunity to learn so much about yourself and how you adapt in unfamiliar settings. This is the greatest thing I learned about myself while abroad and it’s the thing I’m most proud of from my experience. You sound like a super smart, optimistic and insightful individual, so I have no concerns that you won’t make it through this experience.

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