JWU student Angelina Jorge takes readers on the roller coaster ride that is her study abroad experience in Costa Rica. The ride can be extreme, but the support of family, friend and peers makes it worth the ups and downs.
Studying abroad can be, and has been described by many as a roller coaster of emotions. The initial burst of anxiety you feel from getting on the roller coaster and being accepted into the program is exciting. You get strapped into your seat and you can’t stop thinking, “Oh my gosh, this is going to be great!” The ride starts and you don’t have a clue what will happen next. The roller coaster starts to ascend slowly, then escalates faster and faster until you have peaked and then….. you drop!
Going up and coming down/reaching those peaks differs from person to person. We are all tricked into a sense of normalcy when we have to sit in a classroom and listen to a professor lecture via PowerPoint presentation. Wherever you study, you still have homework assignments, group projects, and presentations to do. You still have students, professors, and people to deal with. So what’s the difference, right?
As soon as something goes awry, as soon as you start to drop in that roller coaster, you can’t help but wonder, “What am I doing here?” You thought you were having the time of your life until you failed that first homework assignment, broke out in hives, got a killer migraine, had to use your EpiPen, stayed up all night vomiting, etc. It’s like this uncontrollable doubt that creeps up on you and invades your mind: “I’m not cut out for this.” “Just send me home.” “I’m so done; I can’t wait to leave.” “Only ___ days until I go home.”
Adapting to the food, the climate, your illness, the time zone, organizing your homework, being up early, staying on a schedule- it’s all too much! And it doesn’t matter that others are experiencing their own drops because no one actually talks about it. You just grind your teeth and keep your mouth shut because if anyone asks you what’s wrong, you might fall over the edge and have a meltdown.
And, as cliché as it may sound, you’re not alone. No, literally, you are not there alone. You have a group of people from the same school with the same assignments there to help you. You have professors and study abroad officers ready to assist 24/7. You have family and friends waiting for your call back home. The war between good and evil going on inside your head gets exhausting quickly. Without building an emotional dependency on your peers, you may come off that roller coaster ride thinking it wasn’t worth it to get on in the first place.
Follow Angelina Jorge's honest account of her travel abroad experience in Costa Rica.