I don’t know about you, but I was pretty nervous about going abroad. There isn’t really a rulebook for this kind of stuff. Every university experience is so different, every person is so unique – it’s not like you can Google the answers to what studying abroad is going to be like. I had a few misconstrued ideas about what leaving Edinburgh would be like, and ended up debunking these notions pretty quickly. Here are a few “myths” that I ended up “busting” on my time abroad at Georgetown University. Hopefully they’ll help you too, or provide a new insight on what it’s like to live abroad.
1. I’m not going to make any friends.
Yeah. Common fear, huh? It’s freshers week all over again. Luckily, most universities have a pretty solid new student orientation program in place. Georgetown immediately split us into orientation groups and I found myself meeting loads of friendly faces. My corridor was especially friendly, and I found myself getting along with the students who lived nearby very quickly.
A year abroad means new opportunities to explore new interests, or refine older ones. Joining societies is a great way to make new friends through sharing common interests, or even agreeing to disagree. My time on the Georgetown Marketing Association, volunteering for TEDxGeorgetown, and writing for the magazine allowed me to find fellow students who were interested in advertising and the arts.
2. My friends back home are going to forget about me.
You’re leaving a place that you learnt to call home. You’re leaving friendships that you’ve spent years building. You’re leaving your flatmates. You’re leaving routine. It’s a scary thing, and it’s only natural for anxieties and insecurity to build. “Maybe they’ll move on without me!” was a pretty common thought that floated through my head during the first few weeks of my year abroad.
Luckily, this is never the case. If anything, going abroad makes seeing your friends again an even more special experience. Going abroad allows you to share new stories and experiences with your friends back home, which more often than not, allows you to grow closer to them! FaceTime, iMessage, Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat are all great ways to keep in contact with your friends.
3. I’m not going to feel smart enough in this new university.
Georgetown is a prestigious, academically-rigorous institution. I was worried that I wasn’t going to be able to keep up with the workload, or be on the same level as the students around me. While it was hard adjusting to the new academic system and ways in which the classes worked, I found that it did get easier with time. Professors and other students are always happy to help, especially if you emphasise the fact that you’re an exchange student! At the end of the day, universities are here to help us achieve the best versions of ourselves, and that goes for universities everywhere. There is always going to be someone around to help you if things get tough and you feel like you’re lagging behind on work.