Studying Abroad: Embracing the Uncomfortable
By Viviana Lletget (Visiting Student from University of California Berkeley, Ethnic Studies)
Department(s) at Trinity: English, Political Science, and Sociology
Studying abroad is about understanding yourself more than anything else. We travel away from home to discover foreign places, new people, and unfamiliar cultures, but what I have come to find out in my study abroad experience is that it is me that I am discovering. Human beings are amazingly complex, and we are creatures of habit, therefore only by leaving the familiar, sometimes familial, and changing your surroundings do you get to see the real you inside where your potential is waiting to be discovered. Why am I calling your potential “the real you?” Because I believe we are infinite beings, spiritual beings that are infinitely able to change, reprogram our thought processes, while experiencing a state of mind that allows us to continuously learn more about the phenomenon of life. There is an outer world, but an inner world that takes courage to discover. The real you is the consciousness that allows you to evolve. We are not meant to exist in stale positions. From what I have always heard, humans are the most happy by flourishing, growing, and being adventurous by testing their boundaries, which means taking chances. Studying abroad is daring. It takes a courageous person who is willing to open themselves to vulnerability in order to adopt new ideas without being rigid or judgmental. Studying abroad develops a new you, someone you never knew you could be.
Studying abroad is not always fun. We have to learn how to manoeuvre a new academic institution, we have to learn how to make new friends, and we have to learn how to deal with loneliness. Being far away from family, friends, lovers, and even our pets causes emotions to rise to the surface, but the uncomfortable feelings that may arise are precisely the methods in which you challenge yourself. Feeling the depths of emotions is how you become strong and resilient, which is necessary to survive the sometimes harsh world we live in. Mainstream society has made it conveniently easy to stay comfortable, even sedate yourself with television, commercial goods and food. Sometimes a habitual life can be sedating because we can escape change by just doing what we are used to, and that certainly is comfortable even though it may not bring us happiness. Easiness and the familiar is definitely sedating, but it stunts our growth processes. How do I deal with my uncomfortable emotions? I meditate! I meditate because I am sensitive, empathetic, and an emotionally curious person, and meditation is the vehicle in which I learn how to go with the flow. We cannot control everything in life, but we can gain control in how we react to certain situations. Yes, at times we cannot control how we even react, but there is an opportunity for growth in every single situation, and meditation allows me to self-reflect, and that is where the magic happens. When we allow ourselves the space and time to reflect even on our own mistakes, we can gain valuable insights about life, and how to be more successful in it, but especially how to build healthier bonds with other people.
Since studying abroad can be uncomfortable at times, is it all worth it in my opinion? YES! You have to take risks to feel alive and feel less stagnated. We have to take advantage of all the opportunities that life has made available to us because that is a sign of a grateful heart. Every person who takes it upon themselves to discover other parts of the world will be doing service to everyone they come into contact with. I highly respect people who put themselves in awkward situations in order to increase their understanding of their own self by learning what immaturities within themselves still need to be addressed. And studying abroad definitely reveals your immaturities. You will notice how you speak to people, deal with them, or even how you react to others, and sometimes it just is inappropriate, which can be a great learning curve for you. That is a true warrior. A brave human being. Someone who is willing to be honest about their mistakes or weaknesses, yet diligent about making positive changes. Studying abroad is about letting your guard down and trying new things – even if it is scary, overwhelming, or even embarrassing. Facing your fears is how you access the light within yourself to shine it out like the sun.
Above: This photo was taken in one of Trinity Hall’s Botanical Garden Greenhouses.