I think sometimes there’s this feeling that I’m doing something wrong if I’m not feeling good in London. Which is revealing of the fact that I did come to London with expectations despite trying not to. I think hearing from people about how great of a time I’m going to have or how exciting and fun it will be made me think and anticipate an amazing time abroad. And for some people it may be like that, everyday is a really happy day. Or some people don’t think about it like that at all; they just wake up and take on the day. But I think for most people there are days in every shade, most of them being ordinary.
It can be hard to shake the feeling of preoccupation over whether I’m making the most out of my study abroad experience or whether I’m using this precious time here well to make a good experience for myself. Especially when hearing about what other people are doing, it’s hard to not compare and feel a fault with what I’m doing if I’m not skiing in Chamonix over the weekend or going to Paris or Florence. Sometimes there’s also this obsessive compulsion to make sure every minute in London has been maximized and I’m doing the most that I can and if I’m not out doing something this feeling that I’m wasting time can start to creep in.
But thinking like that is exhausting and ruins the present moment. I didn’t want those thoughts taking up space in my mind. It’s a process but I’ve learned to be okay with what I’m doing and how I’m spending my time. Every single day doesn’t have to be magical and blissful and that doesn’t mean I’ve failed to make the most of this experience. The experience is what it is, an experience. Not a good or magical or special experience, but just an experience. Each day is just a day, and you can only take what comes with it. Sometimes it will be an okay day and you will feel just all right and that is okay. You can only accept what comes with each day and go with it. This may all sound very cheesy, and you may be rolling your eyes thinking of course she’s going to say something like that but I’m grateful that I’m learning to let go. Letting go of making this a good experience and just taking it as it comes.
It’s also okay to not be doing anything on the weekends or going to all these extraordinary places. The whole point of study abroad is to be in a different place as a student. That can entail traveling and exploring every weekend, but that can also be simply going to class and coming home and maybe going out occasionally. There is no right or optimal way a study abroad experience must unfold. It doesn’t have to be any particular type of experience; it doesn’t have to achieve a specific set of goals. Each person’s experience is different and your experience being different from someone else’s doesn’t mean you’re failing to make this a special experience or optimizing your study abroad experience. There is no good or right study abroad experience.