What are your biggest fears or reservations about study abroad? What can you do to address them? How can we help?
In general, I prefer to look forward to things than to think about how it could go wrong. However, I have realized that some things that I can deal with here may be more difficult abroad. One of my main study-abroad related fears is my peanut allergy. I am anaphylactic to peanuts, so if I eat anything containing peanuts I will die without proper treatment. Put like that, it sounds pretty dramatic and scary, but since I’ve known about it since I was five I’m quite comfortable dealing with it. Actually, when I’m studying abroad, I will be need to be less self-reliant as far as food goes. Because I won’t necessarily be able to look at a food and recognize the ingredients, I will need to be bold enough to ask people to ensure that I don’t accidentally eat any peanuts.
The other potential problem is my asthma, which I only realized when it got bad here at the University of Oklahoma a couple of weeks ago. I had trouble carrying a heavy backpack, biking off campus, and dealing with crowds. Plus, I tend to panic more easily and be more self-critical when my breathing is worse. None of which are part of the recipe for success when traveling. I could deal with this because of my familiarity with the system: I knew that I could leave some textbooks at home, go to CVS instead of Homeland, and avoid crowds. Even so, I barely completed what I had to do to keep up. What would this be like on another continent with different allergens where I don’t know how to work around it?
Besides these two issues, one thing I know I’ll need to make sure to do is allow lots of extra time. Even just moving here, a place with the same culture and language, I made plenty of mistakes. Perhaps most notoriously, I lost my ID card my first day in the dorms. Yeah. So obviously when I have even more newness surrounding me, I will need to make allowances and give myself some margin to make sure I can handle everything. Moving to the University of Oklahoma has definitely helped me realize some things about myself that will be very useful when I move farther away.