How Should I Feel Leaving Home to go Abroad?

Hi everyone : ) My name is Erin Lachance and I am an upcoming Senior this year at Wofford College majoring in English and minoring in environmental studies. This semester I have decided to study abroad in two locations through CIEE’s Open Block Campus program. I will arrive in Cape Town, South Africa this coming week and after six weeks of living there I will be traveling to Rome, Italy for an additional six weeks. I look forward to sharing this journey with you all. Stay tuned for some honest writing, good photos and to hear about so many of my exciting adventures!

Studying Abroad has always been a dream of mine. The excitement I feel when I am visiting a new place and experiencing new things is something that can’t be replicated. Therefore, the idea of studying/living in a place where this excitement could be possible every single day was something I desired to pursue long before the opportunity presented itself. For me studying abroad was a no brainer, a must, and I spent months preparing for this very moment. Why then do I not feel overwhelming excitement as I am about to board my flight to reach my first destination?

The question I pose in the title of this entry is one that I have been grappling with for the last 48 hours. While I prepared for every possible scenario, packed strategically, and am leaving informed nothing could have prepare me for the roller coster of emotions that I feel as I sit here writing this today. While the study abroad experience undoubtedly will be full of highlights I have come to quickly realize that it is extremely important to recognize the challenges that will lie ahead of me. It will also be important for me to be graceful with myself as I work through these emotions, especially when it comes to leaving home and being away from the one’s that I love.

Making the most out of my experience is extremely important but I think that for me this means allowing myself to feel any way I want! From here on out I am not putting any pressure on myself to feel a certain way. If I am feeling sad about leaving home then I am allowed to be sad, if I feel scared I am allowed to be scared, and if some days I just want to pack up and go home that is okay!! For all of those bad days there will be days where I feel liberated, strong, and excited. These emotions are all part of the process and will make up both the highs and lows of my experience. While being comfortable at home feels great it is experiences like this that will ultimately push me to become stronger, more independent, and better educated. Before these past 48 hours I had minimal reservations. Now, however, I am most nervous to be lonely and that adjusting emotionally will be particularly difficult for me without my strong support system that I have at home. That being said, however, I am ready for these challenges because they will make me stronger.

“Life will only change when you become more committed to your dreams than your comfort zone”

I am committed to this dream of mine and this process because it truly will be life changing. I couldn’t be more grateful for the opportunity I have ahead of me and for all the people who have been supporting me through this process. It may be a bumpy ride at times but nonetheless it will be a beautiful one.