So it has been a little over three weeks since my arrival to Sweden and though I’ve had a lot of amazing experiences already, it has been ROUGH. It seems so obvious looking back but I don’t think I really understood that moving all alone to another country is actually quite difficult. It’s hard to not feel guilty about having a hard time when all that anyone who has been abroad can talk about is what an amazing time they had. Last week was especially tough, because I keep thinking with every day that goes by, “Okay, has it been the most amazing experience of my life yet? No?? What am I doing wrong??”
However, things have actually been looking up since I went to this DIS orchestrated event called “Stuck in Stockholm”. It was basically a fika in a little cafe with the DIS Care Team (people in charge of assisting with physical and mental health type issues). The purpose of the event was to get together with some the team and some other students who are having a hard time acclimating and to discuss our concerns and such. I came out of it with something that I think is the most important in a situation like mine, which is simply a reminder that it’s normal and expected to have difficulties and doubts when your studying abroad, and I’m not the only one. A lot of the people there expressed similar worries and I think we all felt better after discussing it with each other.
I guess all I need was some good ole’ validation, because I’ve been feeling a lot better since! I’ve started to embrace my discomfort and homesickness, and also have been spending more time thinking about the things that I love about being here. On top of that, the women on the Care Team mentioned that students tend to feel more acclimated and socially connected after Core Course week, which is this week. I can tell it’s true because I’ve already started becoming friendlier with the people in my class.
In short, here are some tips that I have been thinking about to cope with the stress of being abroad.
- Give it time! You’re not going to feel right at home the first week, or maybe even the first month, but the trouble is worth it!
- Every once and a while think about why you wanted to study abroad and what you’ve enjoyed so far.
- It’s okay if all you do some days are eat and shower.
- Talk to someone about your issues, whether it be with your mom, classmate, or a member of the Care Team.
- Know that struggle is part of the growing experience of being abroad. I feel like I’ve already learned so much about myself, my culture, and the world, and I am so lucky to be able to have this opportunity.