October 17, 2013

A Year Abroad: Yes or No?

Yesterday I found out that, despite being in my final year at University, I still had an opportunity to study abroad for a year. This information got me extremely excited as spending a year in the US is something that has always seemed inviting to me.

I came out of the talk about it all extremely excited but now that I've had time to think about it I've realised just how big of a thing this would be for me to do. So, I've decided to run through some of my thoughts on here so as to try to make an informed decision but also so I don't just sit and worry and talk myself out of it just because I'm scared.

Worlds Away: I mean this less in terms of the literal sense and more in the metaphorical. There's about 6 different Universities that I could choose from but all of them would be so different to where I live now. It was a big enough jump for me to move to a city (and when it comes to Bangor, I mean that in the loosest sense of the word) as I grew up in the middle of nowhere and attended a very small school. So, moving to somewhere like New York for a year could be incredibly overwhelming.

Food: I'm a pretty fussy eater, I'm trying to improve but it's slow progress and when I went to Florida in May, my diet basically consisted of chicken or turkey burgers. This is absolutely fine for two weeks but for a year? I've already looked at the food that's on offer in some of the Uni dining halls and it definitely made me concerned that I'd end up living on various forms of potato.

Confidence: This is one of the positives of going. It may be the scariest thing I will ever do in my life but surely if I can prove to myself that I can do that then anything else will be like child's play. At the moment the thought of even going to an interview and starting a new job seems terrifying but I'm sure that if I can stick it out in the States for a year then an interview will seem like a doddle. But on the other hand, if I can't even cope with an interview how am I going to cope with living in a foreign country on my own?

Experience: If you looked at my CV you'd think I'd literally done nothing with my life which isn't too far away from the truth. I've had a very comfortable life and have never really had to set foot outside of my comfort zone and I am yet to fully experience and appreciate what life is like outside of it. When better to start than when I'm not held back by any commitments or just life in general?

Flying: Flying doesn't bother me in the slightest but what does is transfer flights. I've only ever taken a transfer flight once and I was with my school so it was the teacher's responsibility to get me to my next flight not mine. But I think this would be one of those things that once I've done it once it's fine. Before I came to Uni I avoided having to change trains like the plague, now I've done it that often that I actually sometimes choose trains with changes so I can get there faster.

Learning: Because this doesn't involve any transfer of credits I would be allowed to study whatever I wanted, within reason, which is extremely inviting as that is one of the things that I don't like about UK universities; we have to focus on one particular subject from the beginning. However, if and when I go, I'll have completed my degree here at Bangor so I wonder whether I'll actually want to go back to University having handed in my dissertation and got that sense of relief that it's all over and then bam I'm back in a classroom studying for finals.

Make My Mind Up: Spending a year abroad would allow me to have an extra year to really think about and decide what I want to do with my life but again, am I just putting off the inevitable and wasting more time getting an even bigger debt as opposed to just getting a job and starting to actually earn a living?

Destination: My final issue is with choosing specifically which University to go to. I know it's only for a year as opposed to 3/4 but it's still an important decision and there are pros and cons to all of them, for example, Pace University in New York is in a city that I've been to before, it's the closest to home and doesn't require a transfer but it's New York, one of the most populous cities in the world and therefore absolutely terrifying! 

Like I said before, I don't want to talk myself out of going just because I'm a bit scared but I definitely think I'm going to take my time in deciding whether or not this is what I want to do. No matter how you look at it, it's a huge step. I've just got to decide whether it's the right step and/or one I'm ready for.

Sorry for such a long and wordy post but I really needed to just write all of this down somewhere so that I could see straight so I hope you don't mind. If you have any advice for what you think I should do then feel free to let me know in the comments below :)


  1. I completely understand your fears since I'm thinking of going abroad as well, but I would say go for it. Yes, it's a huge step but chances like that don't you fall from the sky. I think we should experience as much as we can now that we're still young. I'm sure you'll learn a lot from this experience and that it will be worth it :)
    And keep us posted with your decision :)

  2. Dewwww eeet! Then I can come and visit ;)

    On a serious note, I think you would regret letting the opportunity slipping by. Just think about how much you've gained from going to Bangor in terms of confidence and life experience. Going to the US would be the same.