Out in a foreign country: What to do when panic strikes

So you’re through with the tedious paperwork, the preparations, the initial excitement and now the big day has come – you are finally getting abroad. There may be a lot of things going through your head such as “How am I going to survive all this?”, “What if things go bad?”, “What if I can’t live up to the expectations?” or “Am I out of my mind?”. Don’t worry! It’s natural to feel that way, especially if this is your first time abroad on your own.

Once you get off the plane, you may experience the first cultural shock and even start panicking a little. However, that’s fine, these feelings are natural, and here is how not to let them spoil your experience.

 

Have an open mind

The most important thing is that you have an open mind. Believe it or not, as odd as it may sound, the most difficult part is over, which was making the decision to go abroad and participate in a project or do an internship. Once you arrive, that’s when the real experience and fun begin, so make sure you are not limiting yourself with fear.

Maintain your curiosity

Remember when you signed the contract and everything was still distant and in the future: the excitement to go abroad, to experience a new country and meet new people? Once you get there, the fear of the unknown may interfere with your initial curiosity, but try to maintain it. Now that you’re here, it’s not so distant anymore, and you can have the experience you were looking forward to.

Engage

Something else to keep in mind is that you should try to embrace the new atmosphere and try to engage as much as you can. Don’t forget, you’re not alone, there are people who are there to help you, your buddy or buddies whose top priority is that you have a great experience. Furthermore, there may be other people volunteering or doing an internship, so they are also in the same shoes as you.

You’re not alone

In the first couple of days you may feel homesick and miss your family and friends. It is important to keep in touch with them on a regular basis so be sure to update them on your situation and well-being. That way they won’t be (super) worried about you. However, keep in mind that you don’t spend all your free time communicating with “home people”. You will miss out on a lot if you do. Instead, get to know as many new people in your surroundings as possible. Share your stories with each other, go out together, have fun, discover, explore, make countless nice and fun memories – that’s how you can make the most out of your experience. Besides, the work you do should give you an experience like no other! So while you do something good for your environment and others, remember to do something good for yourself.

 

The weeks will quickly pass by, you’ll see. What once was the distant future will soon become the past, and you’re an active shaper of what that past will look like. You will probably recall this period as one of the most significant ones in your life – as it could change you. Once the experience is over, ironically, you may have some of the same feelings as you had just when you arrived. You may be lost and have to find yourself, but this time you will miss the places and the people that were once unknown. Try to remain active and remember that the experience doesn’t have to end here, it’s up to you.

 

Written by Tamás Horváth