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Orionite Abroad: It’s not too late to study abroad

Michelle Manera

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Michelle Manera

Michelle Manera

It’s natural to crave a formula, but life isn’t formulaic.

As I share my experiences that ultimately encourage you to study abroad, I’m not inviting you to think that studying abroad is a formula to change your life. However, it’s only fair to warn you that studying abroad has already changed my life and I haven’t even boarded the plane yet.

In the past five months leading up to my last semester at Chico State, I have planned my trip to the University of Brighton in England. My mind buzzed at the preparation I squeezed into that short time.

Deciding and planning ahead gives more opportunities for peace of mind, scholarships, campus jobs in the Study Abroad Office and trip extensions. According to Chico State’s Study Abroad Office website, not extending is the biggest regret of students.

So why did I keep suppressing my desire to study abroad for years until only five months ago? My pros and cons list.

Take a moment to make your own pros and cons list for study abroad. If your biggest con is that you genuinely don’t like to travel, then I will graciously allow you to let go of the idea.

However, if your biggest cons are money or fear, then pack your bags. I understand cost as a con — the majority of study abroad students do. But the heartbreak of regret is stronger than the safety of
practicality.

Here is the reality check that got me to this state of mind: don’t suppress the desire to travel because that desire will reappear. When it does, it will most likely be in the form of regret years after you graduate and it’s too late.

Avoiding regret is not enough. It takes a lot to study abroad. According to their website, the Chico State Study Abroad Office is rated second highest in the nation for number of students abroad. But these advisers will be the first to tell you they aren’t fairy godmothers.

Students have to do the leg work even when calling the host university is as expensive as a goat sacrifice. You will always have another form to fill out. You will annoy at least four people with too many e-mails, and if you don’t you need to annoy them by asking if you’re forgetting something. You will be frustrated beyond measure.

But then, the clouds separate.

All the forms are filled out, the tuition and plane ticket are payed for. The desire reveals itself even more and outweighs the frustration.

I still get frustrated and worry about money, but here comes the second reality check: frustration and fear before going is just a warm-up. If you continue reading the next few months, you’ll hear about the huge number of obstacles still to come.
However, fear keeps you safe and helps you realize the gravity of this experience. As long as you make an effort, the decision can change you like it changed me.
All of this comes back to your pros and cons list – not mine. Just remember: I fought my desire for years before the packed five months I just survived.

Study abroad alumni and I have most-likely considered every con on your list, but also the pro, that travel outweighs them all. My life has already changed because of the patience earned from overcoming frustration and knowing that it all gets done.

Subsequent articles will hopefully expand on this process of empowerment in the coming months as I write them for you from Europe. If the previous sentence made you jealous, you need to study abroad.

It is only truly too late when you graduate and you regret suppressing the urge to go on an adventure.

Michelle Manera can be reached at [email protected] or @michelle_manera on Twitter.

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Orionite Abroad: It’s not too late to study abroad