Today’s blog post comes to us API Global Leader & Texas A&M student Carlee Hebert! She studied abroad with us last year in Grenoble, France. Want to join us this fall? Applications are due this month & we recommend you get started quickly!
I’m just going to say it: I was terrified to study abroad.
Sure, I was excited at first, but as my departure date got closer and closer the panic began to set it. Who thought it would be a good idea for me to go halfway across the world where I knew no one and barely spoke the language? Was it too late to get a refund? Could I just cancel this whole thing now? As I said goodbye to my family at the airport, I began to cry and didn’t stop until my plane landed in Paris. I’ll let you in on a secret here: everyone I talked to told me they cried on the plane ride over. Every single one. Yeah, we were terrified. And yes, it’s completely normal.
One of my biggest fears was that I would get over there, not make any friends, and spend the whole semester sad and alone.
A little dramatic, I know. But, as soon as I met everyone else in my API group, I knew it was going to be a fun semester. The girls I roomed with during orientation (and another from a different room) quickly became my best friends for the semester. We hung out after school, ate lunch together, met each other’s host families, and traveled all over Europe together. Looking back, I had nothing to worry about!
I was also really far from home. I’ve spent my whole life in Texas and I go to school only 2 hours away from my hometown. I was leaving everyone and everything I had ever known and that was scary.
Once I got to Grenoble though, it quickly became my home away from home.
Everyone I met was so welcoming and I quickly fell in to a routine. By the end of the semester, I was crying because I didn’t want to leave my new home and all my new friends. I really went full circle there!
The language barrier was also daunting. I remember during our orientation in Paris our resident director, Marie, was telling us about the Notre Dame and all I understood was “l’eglise” (the church) and “Notre Dame”. Yeah, that was a rude awakening. Thankfully, my host family and professors were all super understanding and patient with my very limited French skills. I picked up the language pretty quickly and after a while, didn’t have much to worry about!
Studying abroad is a magical and amazing experience that I would recommend to everyone, but it’s also a huge life change that can be really scary.
The most important thing I took away from studying abroad is that sometimes the best things in life come in packages wrapped in fear and if you can get through the fear, you can get to something amazing!