Author: Sarah Tubbs

Location: Newcastle, Australia

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

Something as wild as living in a foreign country for almost 5 months by yourself being surrounded with new cultures and people, while also having to take classes alongside it all can sound extremely daunting. As you talk about it with friends and family while making your decision to study abroad, there are many different conversations that can occur. People may question your decision and think that it isn’t the right idea, others may encourage you and want you to experience this for yourself. No matter what conversations ensue while discussing study abroad, in the end it is YOUR decision. One that I would personally recommend to anyone who is debating whether or not to take the leap.

Though there are many people that decide to study abroad in their paths throughout university, every person has a different and unique experience with what they feel while abroad. Even if you go to the same place, you will experience things in a different way than those that surround you. This is one of the most beautiful things about studying abroad. That even though it is a very individual experience, you will feel connections to those around you in ways you have never felt before. So trust me when I say you should take that first step. Talk to an advisor, a family member, a friend, or yourself about the possibility of studying abroad. I promise that you won’t regret it. Because the growth and challenges you feel while abroad are feelings that staying at VU all four years will never be able to give you.

I had my challenges with taking these first steps when I was at VU. I had been wanting to study abroad even before I got accepted into a university. When I got accepted to VU, one of the first things I looked into was the study abroad program they offered. It wasn’t until my senior year that I found I was able to take the time and study abroad, with facing challenges ranging from changing my major, to required classes, to family illnesses, to simply figuring out when the ideal time for me to actually go was. Even though it felt like the right time to go, I found out that there will never be that exact right time to do something. There will always be things that you wished you planned for. That you had more spending money, that you needed more time mentally to figure out things, or more items you needed to bring abroad. But in the end know that it isn’t a permanent thing that will be forever happening. For only a short 5 months you will be experiencing what it is like to study abroad. If this is something you have always wanted to do, figure it out and take those steps to getting to a new country! The benefits of travel are so amazing, diverse and vast. I believe that everyone should try to push themselves to take the chance. Sometimes just taking that first step is all you need to open up an entirely new chapter in your life that you could have never expected to happen. And it will be an unforgettable adventure with whatever you choose. As long as you are kind, compassionate, loving, and most of all courageous.

Overall, deciding to study abroad can seem like a big step, but in reality it isn’t that big if you take time to make those small steps towards your goal of traveling and experiencing new things around you and inside of yourself. It all revolves around those first steps that you feel inside of yourself. To decide to go for something that feels strange and potentially uncomfortable. Because it’s when you push yourself to do those things that make you get out of your comfort zone, and that’s when you have the potential to grow and change. This is when you begin to see that everything that happens is meant to happen. You will be able to understand that in such a deeper way once you start doing things that take you out of the comfort zones we have all unconsciously created for ourselves. To take these first steps is a courageous and strong thing to do for yourself. Just know that whatever you choose, you will begin to feel growth and change within you the first step off the plane.

Sand Dunes of the Northern Shores of Newcastle, AU