Studying abroad can seem a little scary. You’re far from home in unfamiliar surroundings. You’re dealing with the language barrier and adjusting to new cultures. You’re disoriented and maybe experiencing some travel anxiety with the newness of everything…
While some think of living abroad in this way, these fears are often based on a narrow perspective of the wider world – the limited view from one corner of the globe. One way to leave these fears and travel anxiety behind is to venture into the unknown and experience the world for yourself.
Put simply, “travel is the antidote to our fears.”
It may seem counterintuitive, but going abroad is the best way to overcome the fear of going abroad. These concerns are similar to moving to a new city or starting at a new school. Will you fit in? Will you make friends? Will you succeed there? When you live abroad, travel anxiety can become more acute. Chances are you won’t immediately feel a sense of belonging, but that’s the point – adjusting to a new set of norms and contexts can help you grow and become more adaptable. You won’t have your familiar friends and family around you, but that’s in part why you go – to meet people from various backgrounds, people who think, speak, and act differently than you do. Having diverse friends and second families can expand your mindset and make you more creative. Studying abroad can teach you to bravely embrace growing pains, initial awkwardness, and the potential for misunderstandings. You can learn to overcome your fears and anxieties.
AFS helps you face those fears, soften your landing, find your bearings, and discover a second home in other countries and cultures.
Culture shock is real. But, with patience and an open mind, you can overcome culture shock and even benefit from it. With care and curiosity, you’ll gain a repertoire of cultural cues, references, expressions, meanings, mannerisms, and ways of thinking. And with the help of AFS orientations, you’ll quickly learn to navigate the culture, community, and country.
Learning a second language is challenging. But, with enough determination and practice, you will learn to communicate. With even more practice, you’ll gain fluency, maybe even thinking and dreaming in a language that was once totally foreign to you. AFS provides access to learning tools like Rosetta Stone prior to your study abroad program, to help you get up to speed with the language you’ll be speaking. Many of our programs offer language intensives, access to tutors, and homestays to deepen your immersion and accelerate your language acquisition. Our volunteer host families are prepared to welcome you, help you learn, and make you more comfortable in your new home and community.
AFS has more than 70 years of experience in international education and the AFS Partner Network has staff and volunteers in more than 50 countries, worldwide. Hundreds of thousands of people have studied abroad with AFS. We have a long and proud history of delivering the kind of international education and intercultural learning that fosters global citizenship.
The safety and well-being of our students is our top priority. This is your adventure abroad, but we’re there to support you.
- AFS has an extensive support network for you, your family in the U.S., and your host family abroad. There are local AFS staff and volunteers in every host country, as well as support staff here in the U.S. – there are people on-call, 24/7.
- Our program fee includes secondary medical insurance. As part of our commitment to your health and safety, this plan helps to ensure that you will receive medical treatment in the case of an emergency.
- An AFS Situation Response Management Team is always in place to monitor events throughout the world and respond as necessary. While some programs have been curtailed at times, AFS has run programs throughout the world, without interruption, since it was founded in 1947.
It’s normal to have concerns and travel anxiety when embarking on a new journey. But, don’t let those worries keep you from the transformational experience of studying abroad with AFS:
“My study abroad experience has sparked my interest in exploring not only the outside world and academic pursuits, but also an interest in exploring myself and opening up potentialities in me that I never would have otherwise.” – Julius M.
AFS students tend to become more mature, courageous, independent, and creative. AFSers return with expanded horizons and better understanding of their passions and long-term goals. They often communicate their impressive experiences in many ways, including them on their resumes and college applications. Advanced communication and second language skills, as well as a network of connections across countries and cultures, can serve them through their lives and careers.
The benefits of living abroad and stretching beyond your comfort zone are plentiful. It’s often where you’ll find what’s most beautiful about life—growth, self-discovery, inspiration, and confidence, with relationships you’ll cherish forever.
If you have specific questions or concerns you want to discuss with us, you can always reach our Study Abroad Specialists at 1-800-AFS-INFO or [email protected].