I have been waiting to study abroad since I was in middle school, and next semester I am finally going. While my destination of choice has changed a lot in the past eight years, I have been saving my pennies and can finally say I will be leaving the United States for the first time. This coming February, I will be traveling to Asan, South Korea, as a part of the Soonchunhyang University exchange program.
This is going to be one of the most amazing experiences of my life, and as much as I am excited, I am so scared. It might be hard for people who know me to hear this, but I really like being in control. Shocking, I know. This whole trip is something completely new, and no matter how much Duolingo and research I do, I know I will not be remotely prepared.
That is not going to stop me, though, because I have never shied away from doing things solo with no preparation before. Perhaps it is my god complex that says I can do whatever I put my mind to, but I have done a lot of things by myself growing up.
I am an artsy person, and I love trying new mediums to create. In high school, that meant using acrylic paint, watercolors, pastels and pencils to make my work. I taught myself (using the powers of online tutorials and my mom’s 30-year-old fibrecrafts encyclopedia) how to crochet and knit patterns. In my sophomore year here at Shippensburg, I took a class in ceramics with no prior lessons simply because I like squishy things. Now I have my own gallery showing in Huber with the pieces I have made.
Additionally, I go a lot of places myself. In high school, my friend group was not easy to plan outings with, so I would simply go regardless of who went with me. That meant I went ice skating, looked around art museums and ate at whatever restaurants I wanted when I felt like it.
This ability to fly solo is why I went to Acadia National Park in Maine this summer with the Partners in the Parks program. I basically camped with strangers for seven days just because I thought it would be fun — and it was. I made new friends from across the United States and got to unlock a new, outdoorsy version of myself.
All of this is to say that while I am scared of how underprepared I am to study abroad in a country with a language I have not learned, I am not afraid enough to stop myself. There is a lot of power in being able to do things independently, and I know this chapter of my life is too valuable to chicken out.
It is OK to be nervous about going somewhere new alone, but that should never stop you from doing something you want to do. The whole purpose of college is to grow into an adult, and that will require some discomfort. Do not stop yourself from doing something just because your friends are not interested or someone says it is lame. If you want it, go chase it. You are the only person living your life, and you should be in charge of it.