When you haven’t travelled by yourself before, the idea of going on an OE can be daunting. I know because I’ve been going through it for the past few months. I got a partial scholarship to study abroad for a semester in Denmark (!!) this year, but the overwhelming happiness in being accepted lasted a few weeks before it was gradually overshadowed by fear and apprehension at this seemingly impossible task ahead of me. Denmark was one of the very few countries I was willing to travel to because of my extremely picky nature, but even the thought of going to this beautiful, relatively peaceful and exciting new country wasn’t enough to shake out the ‘what ifs’ running through my head. If you are finding yourself in a similar situation and freaking the f*** out, read on…it may be helpful but I won’t promise anything.
- You aren’t the only one. It is always tempting to think that you are special in the way you feel and react to these kind of situations, but it can also be alienating. I eventually started talking to others who were faced with the same exciting albeit terrifying experience ahead of them and guess what? It helps! No one can understand how you feel in these situations quite like those who are in the exact same position, so engage with others and start getting excited!
- Don’t always trust the internet. I googled how to fit in with Danes (in hindsight, that was obviously a mistake) and it took me to pages talking about the Viking descendants that are blonde, lithe and unnaturally tall. That is obviously not what a 5’2 midget Indian Kiwi wants to hear. Stereotypes often have some kernel of truth in them (sometimes) and may of the native Danes are taller than the average New Zealander or Indian, but the city I live in is teeming with all kinds of people from different cultures and background which is a dream for a student about to study under the ‘inclusive journalism initiative’. The internet also led me astray in predicting the weather, it is very, very cold here but definitely not as cold as many make it out to be. Anyway, point is- internet is a useful tool and you would be a fool not to use it, but take everything that isn’t from authorised sites with a grain of salt.
3. Stop worrying. This is DEFINITELY easier said than done, but I only survived the past few weeks prior to arriving in Denmark by simply refusing to pay attention to the incessant ‘what if’ voice in my head. Think of it as a white noise machine, do what you gotta do and stop thinking about things you don’t need to. Don’t build up unrealistic expectations in your head, but get excited because it will be an unforgettable experience and one that you will hopefully love.