Expectations vs Reality

By Ni’ja Bradford

One of the things I kept hearing most when asking people whether I should study abroad, “Do it, it’ll change your life.” Pretty bold statement, right? No matter how many blogs I read or how many people I asked some variation of that statement always came up. Safe to say I came in with some pretty big expectations. I’m talking Lizzie McGuire movie expectations. Okay, maybe not that big, I don’t care how attractive I think the guy is there is no way he’s getting me on a stage to sing in front of an audience.                                                                                                   

I think you know what I mean though. I was expecting study abroad to be this big adventure that changed my life and I would come back to the States a new and improved me. Well I only have a few more weeks left and… I’m still me. I’m still the girl that likes to go out and party one night and then stay in bed and watch Netflix all the next night. I’m still the girl who has a closet full of cute clothes but you’ll never know it because I prefer to wear sweats and hoodies most days. My outlook on the world has not changed. I don’t feel like I am more worldly or cultured.

However, what I do feel is gratefulness. I cannot express how happy and proud I am for having this opportunity. See while study abroad did not change my life in the sense that I am a new person, it did significantly improve upon my life because I’ve had the opportunity to meet some amazing people and see some extraordinary places. All things that I would not have been able to do had I stayed at my home university this semester.

So while my expectations coming in were pretty high, I can’t say that I’m disappointed in any way. My outlook on study abroad has just changed. At first, I considered study abroad as a once in a lifetime opportunity to see the world. Now, I see it as a peek into my future because now that I’ve done this I never want to stop. I want to see as much as the world as possible and grab unto as many opportunities as possible because now I know it’ll be worth it.

I also want to point out that even though I have not experienced a life- changing event it doesn’t mean you can’t if that is what you want. You have to grab the opportunities when they come to you. I will never be that person that sings in front of a live audience, but you can. Make the most of this experience and even if you’re like me and you come back relatively the same at least you can say you did it.

Tip: Keep a journal or something with you to document your days. Trust me you’ll start forgetting things quicker than you want.