For all the people studying abroad next year who see punny instagram captions from foreign countries and get nervous...
Study abroad is marketed to Stern students as an essential part of our “global education”--we get to settle in a foreign country and further our studies in places where the opportunities to enrich ourselves are endless. The freedom that comes with being abroad is undeniably attractive to the Stern undergraduate; we gain this freedom when we come to New York as freshmen and continually seek more of it. It’s an insatiable desire to be free of the things that tie you down, an inherent desire in people reaching their twenties.
On a personal level, I understand this. I can never forget how I felt opening up the portal on Albert that told me that I was accepted to the London campus in the Fall. The first feeling was complete elation; after all, I was excited to move somewhere even further away from home than New York, where I could learn and grow in new ways. The second feeling was relentless anxiety.
You spend months building a new network at NYU--you find people that bring NyQuil to your room at 11:30 PM when you’re sick, people that get frustrated for you when you can’t figure out how to do a Micro problem, and people that stay on the phone with you when you walk home alone when it’s dark out. In a single portal update, that network seems to collapse upon itself.
It’s not that you don’t think you’ll find more people to build a new network with abroad. It’s not even that you don’t think you’ll be able to build a new life abroad, but it’s the basic fear that you’ll get replaced because New York is too big to stop moving without you. Because who will your best friend grab Dollar Pizza with after your late night essay submissions? Will that person make jokes that slap just as hard as yours do? That seat you always claim in the West 4th Starbucks to read in--will someone else sit there to drink their coffee before a 9:30 AM class? You’re the person that eats all the Peanut M&M’s from the UC vending machine. Is that slot just going to stay mostly full when you’re gone? Does anyone on this campus love Peanut M&M’s as much as you do? Probably not, I promise.
We can’t find a definitive answer to any of these questions, and that’s what makes this process of packing up and leaving so difficult. Here are some tips to help you make sense of this vague anxiety you feel and cope with it:
- Spend time with your friends as much as you can, especially if they’re not joining you abroad. I know we have midterms and then finals, but we can’t adopt the mentality that “once ____ assignment/project/exam is over, I’ll have time to be with the people I care about.” You deserve to have fun.
- Connect with the people studying with you at the location you’re enrolled in. They’re going on this adventure too!
- Stay on top of the logistical requirements for studying abroad, whether it’s getting a new passport or applying for housing.