2021 Fall Costa Rica COVID-19 External Programs Language Studies Nyah Tinsley Preparing to go Temple Semester USAC

The ups and downs of the study abroad application and pre-departure processes

As my departure date for my study abroad experience approached, I began to reflect more on the application process and the various steps I had to go through to get where I am now. I am currently in my study abroad location, Costa Rica, but there was a point in time when I wasn’t even sure I would be going. It has been a rollercoaster of emotions, which is one important thing I wasn’t aware I would feel before applying to my program. I was expecting to just feel excitement. I didn’t consider the amount of work that goes into making your study abroad experience actually happen.

Walking to school in Heredia, Costa Rica.
Walking to school in Heredia, Costa Rica

One emotion that is common to feel when preparing to study abroad is constant nervousness or uncertainty. If you are anything like me, you would want everything planned out and certain. That way you don’t have to worry about anything except the time you have left before you leave. I think the Covid-19 pandemic has created these feelings in many people, but for me it only heightened them with my application process. The state of the pandemic had a huge impact on whether or not I could end up studying abroad. Many logistics were up in the air, which made me very uneasy. I just wanted everything to be planned and figured out so I wouldn’t have anything to worry about during my summer break. 

Besides all of the anxiety and nervousness, I also felt excitement, which you should also expect to feel. For me, I had been wanting to study abroad since before I even started college. I have had the privilege of traveling to other countries before coming to Costa Rica, but never for an entire semester. Global studies and Spanish are my two majors, so learning about different cultures and their languages has interested me for some time. I wanted to be immersed in a Spanish speaking country to improve my Spanish fluency, which led me to apply for an external program in Costa Rica. I chose this specific program because of the cost and the courses that were offered. Compared to the other Spanish study abroad programs I looked into, this one was the most inexpensive and had a lot of courses I could choose that would count towards my Spanish major. These two factors motivated me to stick with the application process. 

Applying for this program has been a crazy ride of many things I was not expecting, as I mentioned earlier. I’m not completely sure why, but in my head, the application process was going to be very straightforward and quick. I learned very quickly that it was the exact opposite. I had applied to this same program for the spring 2021 semester, but it was canceled very early on, so I was not able to see what the full application process was like. But once I got further into the process, I had to fill out many safety and risk forms due to the pandemic as well as provide information on my program, and passport and visa information. There were many more requirements to complete but those are some examples.

A number of my submitted pre-departure requirements
A number of my submitted pre-departure requirements

Looking back, it makes sense as to why the process is so extensive and detailed. You have to ensure that the courses you’ll be taking will transfer back to Temple, provide various government related documents, and now, prepare to be abroad during a pandemic. I wish I had been a little more prepared since the process can be time consuming. While I was finishing up this past spring semester, I was also writing other short essays for scholarships, finding answers to logistical questions about my program, filling out and submitting various documents, emailing multiple people back and forth, along with many other things. I won’t lie and say it wasn’t stressful, but I think the best thing to do that helped me was to focus on one part of the application at a time and not focus as much on the process as a whole. This time around when I applied for this coming fall semester, I have gotten further in the application process so I have been able to see all of what goes into planning for an entire semester abroad.

Despite all of the emotions and uncertainty that has come with applying to study abroad, I believe it will all be worth it in the end. I have also learned patience and perseverance. If you’re thinking about studying abroad, I hope my experience encourages you to keep going and not give up, even if it gets stressful and tough. I know my current self is thanking my past self for sticking with the process and persevering despite the way I felt.

Learn how you can explore various external program options approved by Temple.


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