Studying abroad is an exciting and amazing experience, one that I would not trade for the world now that I am here. However, it can also bring a lot of stress, fear, and anxiety as you prepare to live and study alone in a new country.

For me, getting to Barcelona wasn’t easy. My biggest challenge was getting over my fear of studying abroad, which almost made me back out more than once. 

If you’re reading this, you might be in the application process and you might be having doubts. However, don’t let those fears and worries hold you back from an unforgettable experience.

There were a few things that helped me throughout the process. Aside from the support of my friends and family, here are 5 tips that helped me navigate my fears and anxieties throughout the study abroad application process:

KNOW THAT YOU’RE NOT THE ONLY ONE

Most of what we see online about study abroad are the picture-perfect photos in front of a historical building. However, many people experience moments of fear, stress, or anxiety leading up to their trip. Experiencing these emotions is normal and expected, but knowing you are not alone is the first step to addressing your fears and moving forward with confidence in the process.

TALK TO OTHER STUDENTS WHO HAVE STUDIED ABROAD

Reach out to friends who have studied abroad. If you don’t know anyone, ask your university’s study abroad office to see if they can connect you with study abroad alumni. Invite them to coffee (a cafe con leche, as we say here in Barcelona) and ask them to share their study abroad journey). Not only will you hear amazing stories, learn tips, and share your hesitancies, but you will also l find support from someone who has been in your position before.

CONSIDER TALKING TO A PROFESSIONAL

Before traveling to Barcelona, I attended a few counseling sessions through the student health services program at my home university. The counselor provided a safe place to discuss my fears, allowed me to better understand the causes of it, and provided me with coping and stress-reducing mechanisms that could be used before, during, and after my study abroad experience. Their listening ear and guidance helped make studying abroad a positive experience. 

REACH OUT TO BARCELONA SAE STAFF

It’s impossible to know everything, but learning more about Barcelona and the program itself can help ease a multitude of fears, especially when a lot of your questions already have answers. I can’t emphasize enough how much my Barcelona SAE student advisor helped me. She was someone I could turn to, via email or last-minute call, regardless of the questions or concerns I had. BSAE advisors understand what it is like to be in your position and will help where possible. 

I also recommend checking out the Online Student Guide created by Barcelona SAE, which can probably answer a lot of your questions! 

REMIND YOURSELF OF THE WHY

While studying abroad brings its own challenges, there are also so many reasons to do it! Write the reasons why you want to study abroad (learn another language, travel the world, meet people from a different culture, etc.) and read it every time the fears make you doubt your decision. 

Even if there were challenges along the way, studying abroad for a semester in Barcelona has completely changed my life— I know it sounds cliché, but how else can I describe it? If you are struggling through the process, I hope that my story and my tips help provide a positive way to manage your fears, allowing you to fully enjoy this experience that will change your life for the better.

Andrea Bustamante

Andrea Bustamante

Andrea is a Business Management major from University of South Florida, and studied abroad at SIS and interned during Spring 2020.