A long time ago someone said to me;
“learn to live from those before you, and you will spend less time agonizing over your mistakes, and more time celebrating your life.”
Years later I found myself in my first semester of college trying to decipher my life path/purpose/career goals and business calc equations…sometimes they felt one in the same. I’ve heard college stories from cousins and friends, college is the “best time of your life” they said. However four years goes by fast.. how do you really take advantage of the opportunities before time flows through your fingers?
I often asked friends about ‘biggest college regrets’ in hopes to avoid some of these trials. To my surprise it wasn’t the grades, broken relationships or the hangovers… but the regret of not studying abroad.
At 17 years old I knew I had to do it even though I definitely didn’t know how. I had never traveled outside of the U.S. (besides Canada) however it’s hard to count weekend trips to Montreal as an “international trip” when you’re from Upstate NY.
By my senior year of college; following three years of hounding my parents and writing them a 12 page dissertation paper explaining every possible aspect of studying abroad [I was awfully determined & they’re a hard sell] I passed “GO’ and bought my ticket to the fantasy world of study abroad in Brisbane, Australia.
Looking back I wish someone could have warned me about some of the infectious diseases that you can catch abroad – the ones my doctor overlooked and failed to mention. It’s shown that study abroaders are 90% more likely to catch these than your typical college students
1. Minimalitis – the inevitable over-packing has driven you mad
This infection may first appear as a hoarding disorder, but later develops into Minimalitis. This disease is not contagious however it will alter your mentality about how you live and what goes with you. Most students studying abroad WILL OVERPACK -even when you’re to your “Minimal for survival”.
My ‘bare minimum’ consisted of 90lbs worth of clothing, shoes and toiletries between 3 bags that I obviously couldn’t live without for 6 months. After catching Minimalitis and realizing I wear the same 4 items everyday, anything that is not essential for everyday use becomes a burden to own and will drive you crazy to have.
2. Goodvibritis – the need to cut out negativity from your life on a consistent basis.
So you’re abroad. You’re making new friends and learning about new cultures, languages and sweet places. By now you might be exploring new hobbies and loving your life when BAM, Goodvibritis hits you. You realize that the drama infused life you might have lived back home is no longer significant. That people make a big deal out of things that don’t even matter. That you have NO time for anything but positive people and you
no longer complain about your situations, you just change them for the better. Symptoms include constant smiling, making strange high pitched excited noises, laughing until you cry and jumping around like an idiot because you’re pumped about life. Most people would like to be infected by this disease so consider yourself lucky when you catch it.
3. Travelitis (also known as the travel bug)
This is A SERIOUS infection spread by travelers, study abroaders and international friends. It is caused by the finding of a new world, confidence growth and true happiness. If caught, this infection will consume your every thought, action and subconscious dream state. [see “How Traveling will ruin your life”]. This is a chronic condition that will be foreign to others around you. No one (with the exception of other’s who have caught it) will understand where you are coming from, why you constantly look back at photos and wonder if you will ever be truly as happy and free feeling as you did that “one time abroad”. When your travels end you will be excited to come home and see your friends/fam, only to find yourself wishing there was an instant replay button so you could do it all again. Good luck if you catch this – The more you travel the worse it gets. Fighting fire with flames.
Good luck study abroaders – if you get infected with any of the above diseases, your life is about to change forever.