The rollercoaster of emotions before studying abroad

By Lauren Alexander
Published May 29, 2012

If there is one emotion I can pinpoint as to my feelings of leaving home to embark on study abroad, it’s anxious. As I packed, drove to the airport and boarded the plane I would get a tingle down my spine, and my head began to hurt from smiling so much. 

After a long boring summer with a 9-5 job, I was beyond ready for an adventure. Nobody around me really seemed to understand this, especially my parents. Not that they didn’t support my decision to study abroad in Australia, rather they wanted to be able to text me on East Coat Standard Time. I was ready to jet off and discover a new side of myself. Every person I talked to prior to leaving asked if I was sad to leave my family and friends. I felt so bad saying no, but I was ready to leave America; ready for a new chapter.

So anxious, so excited

The hour long drive to the airport was spent texting family and friends for the last time for the next five months. All of the exciting wishes only made me more excited, and anxious! I couldn’t wait to share stories with them! I turned my phone off and put it in the bottom of my suitcase. The stress started to build as I quadruple checked every one of the dozen documents I needed to board the plane. The only hard part about leaving was my crying mom who I left behind at the security check-in gate. The anticipation I had was so uncontrollable. I dreamed of studying abroad while college searching five years ago, and now it’s finally happening. July 14th, a day I had been counting down towards for the longest time, had finally come. I didn’t care about the long 23 hour flight; I had snacks, book, movies, markers and stickers. 

I managed to keep my mind free of expectations. I had no idea what I was getting myself into; studying abroad was a concept far too hard for me to wrap my head around. I told myself I was heading across the world, and that was enough for me. I knew that I would be living at a “college” surrounded by Australians, and a few other exchange students. The environment and social nature of this college (based on literature I had read) eased my nerves about making friends and staying busy, while also remaining relaxed. I talked with a few students who had previously studied abroad in Australia, and they all assured me that the city of Melbourne was the perfect choice for me.  

I knew that I wouldn’t be missing much fun back in America. A majority of friends from college were also studying abroad the same semester and I rarely see my friends from home during the school year so this was the perfect time to fly halfway around the world and live in the land of kangaroos and boomerangs!

I traveled the long flight with a friend, which definitely eased my nerves. On the final (14 hour) leg of the flight from Los Angeles to Melbourne, a nice couple sitting next to us filled us in about some of the less-touristy stuff we needed to add to our abroad bucket list. I soon became overwhelmed. We filled an entire sheet of paper up with places we needed to visit, museums we needed to check out and some good bars and restaurants to frequent. I knew that I couldn’t possibly travel to five different countries surrounding Australia, build the friendships I longed for, relax and keep my mind at ease, and still have money in my bank account…it was a great jumping off point for planning the next five months, though.

Ready for the adventure

Since I have a lot of prior travel experience, flying doesn’t bother me, nor does jet lag or leaving my cozy nest of home. I forced myself to sleep through some of the flight although I was so excited to hear my first authentic Australian accent, see cars on the other side of the road, and see the wildlife! 

Learn more about studying abroad in Australia.

Lauren R. Alexander studied abroad in Melbourne, Australia in 2011. She is currently working towards a BA in Communication and Theater at American University in Washington, DC.