Traveling to another country is scary for me, especially since I have never traveled outside of the states by myself before. The idea of having to navigate crowded airports and an entire city by myself makes me highly anxious about my trip to Paris for the summer study abroad program with Temple. So many questions run through my mind whenever I think about it. What if I don’t enjoy being abroad? How will I be perceived as a black female from the US? Will there be a big communication barrier since my listening comprehension skills for French are pretty bad? How safe is it for a woman traveling alone? What about the cellphone plans and learning to use Euros instead of US dollars? I feel so clueless studying abroad for the first time, but I know that feeling this way is perfectly normal for someone like me.
There are a lot of things that I need to consider as the departure date slowly creeps closer, but that is also what makes the whole experience exciting. Sure, it’s stressful — but don’t be afraid to include others in your path to discovery. A few weeks ago, I bought my plane ticket with the aid of a travel agent who was really helpful in finding me a flight. She made booking flights simple and even got me the window seat I had hoped for. At least I know I don’t have to worry about moving when someone needs to go to the rest room. I’m just hoping my fellow neighbors will be nice people because there are some airplane horror stories out there.
My flight arrives early in the morning on June 27th at the Charles De Gaulle Intl. Airport. From there, I have to find a taxi at the airport to my housing, which is a three-bedroom apartment that will be shared with two other students and an RA. Having housemates is another big step for me because I’m a relatively quiet person. In addition to that, I’ll be sharing a room with one of them. I normally prefer having my own room, but I could become a school-obsessed hermit if I did that. It’ll be nice to have a group of people around to share the experience of living in Paris with.
The hardest part for me will be the fact that I’m leaving my family for a month. I’m a homebody, and not having them within a distance where they can get to me in less than five hours is anxiety-provoking. That being said, I don’t look at it as a negative. I’m just getting out of my comfort zone, and as a lot of wise people say, the first step for personal growth is to be uncomfortable. You can’t grow without it, and you won’t learn anything new staying where you’re comfortable. It’s hard — but by the end of the experience, it won’t be uncomfortable anymore. You will have grown, whether it be in character or maturity. You will have lived, because to live is to break from routine and do something new. As Oscar Wilde said, “To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all.”
Moreover, it’s scientifically proven that the stress that accompanies trying something new is healthy because it stimulates new links between your brain cells. My fear and anxiety just mean that my brain is preparing for this new adventure. I am ready to learn about all of the new things that I will come across in the near future.