The stages of traveling abroad: Expect to feel this way

Picture of Caitlin Potenza

Being 6 weeks in, I can confidently say I have felt every emotion under the sun in this time span. Moving alone across the world and acclimating to another culture is full of a ton of highs and
lows, and it is a strange but great experience.

This is my experience:

The first stage for me was great excitement. To get the opportunity to move to another country
and get work experience at the same time is a special thing. I was full of curiosity and thrill for
this adventure coming up, but it was months away and did not feel too real yet.

The next stage hit about 2 days before leaving: fear and nervousness. When it started to sink in,
I would be getting on a plane, traveling 11.5 hours away to a place where I did not know anyone
at all, there were many questions and anxieties – and there was no pulling out now. What if I
hated my internship, what if my homestay doesn’t work out, and the biggest one, what if I am
alone the entire time? None of these questions can realistically be answered.

Next was what I like to describe as the honeymoon stage. Stepping out of the airport and
realizing I am about to achieve one of my goals and dreams since I was young. I was full of
glee, which is completely warranted as I toured and ventured in Dublin for the first couple of

The next stage I experienced was a little bit of loneliness and isolation. While I was surrounded
by people, I really didn’t know anyone. It hit me that for the first time in my life, I didn’t have my
family down the street from me, and I wasn’t living in my little college town anymore, where my
best friends are in the room next to me. This sounds scary, but it was actually a good thing, and is the only way I was able to try new things and push my boundaries. If we live our lives in complete comfort forever, we will never grow.

That leads me into my current stage, which is happiness and contentment. After the chaos of
settling in, I finally am able to grow and come out of my comfort zone. The fears I had were just
fears, and that is all they are. With two weeks left, I am excited to finish off this journey and see
the great self changes that traveling abroad can help create.

Learn director cara simon poses for a professional headshot wearing a brown jacket.

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