Today’s blog post comes to us from University of North Texas student & API blogger Karina Feliciano! She’s studying abroad with us in Lisbon, Portugal.
Ever since I walked across the stage at my high school graduation, as lost as I was in every aspect of life, I knew one thing for certain: that I would study abroad.
Six semesters, two different schools, and a hell of a visa application later, I made it to Portugal. However, there was a whirlwind of emotions that hit me like a train before I left. Three days before my flight, as I was staring at my half-packed suitcase, I thought to myself: what did I get myself into? I was going to leave my family, friends, and everything I knew in just a few days.
Nothing could prepare me for the anxiety I felt as I was on my way to live in a different country by myself for the first time. I was blubbering on the phone to my family and friends during my eight-hour layover (eight hours gives you a lot of time to think), and I felt sick to my stomach all the way up to boarding the plane. But as I settled into my seat, what helped me was thinking about what they had told me.
“You are brave.”
Anyone who steps out of their comfort zone is brave. Anyone who goes abroad is brave. You are literally throwing yourself into a new environment hoping you can adapt as quickly as possible. It’s absolutely exciting and terrifying at the same time. And without this adventure, I would not have gotten to experience the beauty and uniqueness that is Portugal. I’ve given myself a pat on the back.
“You are not alone.”
I got lucky enough to be in this program with 18 other people from the United States. Getting to know people in the same boat as me has definitely helped me adjust. Also, just in this first week, I have met people from all ends of the world that are struggling to learn their way around just like me. I have been feeling less and less homesick as the days go by.
This week has taught me more than I could ever prepare for. From missing my stops on the metro, to accidentally ordering sardines at a restaurant (they’re just as fishy as they look), every day is a new experience. Above all, meeting new people is the best part. It makes you realize that people are not so different from you after all.