11 Ways to Beat Pre-Departure Jitters

Amanda Berthold University of Edinburgh, Scotland


August 28, 2014

Don’t give in to your fears. If you do, you won’t be able to talk to your heart - Paulo Coehlo, The Alchemist

As I quickly approach my departure date for Edinburgh, I find myself becoming more and more susceptible to restlessness and anxiety. I can only imagine that there are many other students who feel the same way as I do as they embark on their very own study abroad adventures. Therefore this week I am choosing to post about things that have helped me be less anxious as I get ready to leave. Below are the 11 things I’ve been keeping in mind in the attempt to beat pre-departure jitters.

  1. It’s Okay to Be Nervous: Everyone gets nervous about leaving home to spend a semester or two across the world. As my parents say, “If you weren’t nervous, we’d be concerned”.
  2. Get Your Ducks In A Row: Gather everything that you will need to have a successful study abroad experience together before you leave. This includes having the right paperwork and making sure everything is packed. Frantic late night shopping trips for a frilly eye mask you forgot to buy for the plane are what we are trying to avoid here. Knowing that everything is in its place and ready to go will give you peace of mind and one less thing to worry about.
  3. Identify your Cheering Section: Seek out those who will be your support system while you are away. Identifying those who you can turn to if there are times of strife in the future can help put your mind at ease in the present.
  4. Reach Out for Help: Your support system doesn’t always have to come from home. Identify those who can help you overseas as well. This includes Arcadia Staff, University Staff, and Counselors. There is no shame in asking for help…in fact, that’s what these team members are for!
  5. Make a Wish List… and Keep Adding to It: Make a list of things you want to do in and outside of the country you are studying in. Not only will this get you excited for your trip but it will give you a sense of control over your experience relieving any last trace of doubt.
  6. Do Your Research: Make an effort to look up information about the place you are visiting. If you have some kind of idea of what you’re about to walk in to it can help make fear of the unknown disappear.
  7. Pack a Reminder of Home: Think of your future self. Pack something for yourself that can act as a pick-me-up if you start to miss home. Tying up loose ends for your future self can make you feel a lot more secure in the present moment.
  8. Start a Diary or Blog: Writing is a good way to filter your own mind. Sometimes things we find scary in our own heads seem a lot less daunting on paper.
  9. Gain Perspective: One of my good friends who studied abroad told me to remember, “Everything is still going to be here when you get back”. You’re only spending 4 months to a year of your entire life studying abroad. Don’t spend it worrying!
  10. Learn to Live in the Moment: Don’t stress about things you can’t change. If you are riding a gondola in Venice, think about the Gondola, not if you have enough clean socks for tomorrow. Chances are you will never recreate this experience again so don’t spend it worrying.
  11. Get Excited: This is a once in a lifetime experience… don’t remember yourself as being scared. Eat Italian food, dance the Flamenco, listen to the sounds of the bagpipe and allow yourself to be swept into eagerness. Let the butterflies in your stomach be out of excitement not worry.

So there you have it, 11 Ways to beat pre-departure jitters. I hope it helped you put any apprehensions you have to ease. Until next time where I’ll be reporting live from Edinburgh. Gulp. Maybe I should read through my steps again…