However, one of the things we never talk about when discussing the infinite merits of studying abroad is that it's never a perfect, blissful experience. Granted, looking back on this past year (London, then Shanghai), I mostly remember the happiest times. But even so, I will always have the lingering memories where I felt overwhelmed and basically alone. I went abroad with BPE my sophomore year and still felt that way, so I kept thinking "...Huh? Why? Am I doing something wrong?” And of course, I wasn’t. I just happened to get nostalgic for Thanksgiving for the first time in my life and didn’t know what to do about it.
This collection of confusing moments made me realize that because we’re at a school that celebrates crazy experiences like living in New York City, or traveling to different countries in Europe every weekend, we forget to remind ourselves that it’s okay to take a step back. No matter where you are, at NYU in NYC, or NYU in the rest of the world, it is perfectly, incredibly, shockingly normal to feel alone. Even when everyone is telling you, “You must be having the BEST - TIME - OF - YOUR - LIFE,” it is more than okay to have bad days and moments alone.
We are all so lucky to go to a school with so many opportunities. Those opportunities led me to the best year of my life, but at times, I still felt isolated, even when I was feeling so grateful for everything I had. At the end of the day, it really is all about reconnecting with yourself, your goals, and reaching out to the loved ones who will always have your back. This includes Facetiming your concerned and surprised family on Thanksgiving at 1 AM EST because you “missed fighting with them at dinner.”
And so here are some techniques I used whenever I felt like I needed a pick-me-up:
- Called my friends back home, whether they were studying abroad in different places, or at different universities.
- Grabbed the person closest to me (most often, one of my suitemates) and went out to dinner with them. It always helps to have a fun experience and one-on-one conversation!
- Listened to a podcast. My favorites at the time were How I Built This, Slow Burn (the Clinton years), and Dissect. They’re great escapes when you want a distraction.
- Netflix, obviously! Sometimes, you just want to stay in bed!
- Went for a walk alone. It was so great to get a chance to see a city with no other commitments, so anytime I felt alone, I leaned into it and explored!
And then, I would wake up the next morning, remember the amazing people I was surrounded with and the beautiful city I was so lucky to live in, and that bad moment would pass. It will for you too, so no matter how scared you are of being far away or alone, always take the leap. It’s worth it!