Many have asked me, how did you have that confidence to study abroad and travel alone? My honest answer to this question is the confidence you see in me isn’t innate but is gained through my solo adventure. The confidence that you have before your trip or the lack of it should not be the determinant for whether you should study abroad. If there is a part of you that longs for adventures and enjoys discovering new cultures, you should go.
What I share with you here is raw and unfiltered because I believe what’s real is what can really motivate people to step out of their comfort zone. Signing up for an independent program and traveling solo around Europe was not my first choice. However, the desire to expand my horizon was bigger than my fear of all the things that could possibly go wrong.
No matter how used you are to being on your own, you will feel overwhelmed at one point. The panic will set in as it did for me right after I checked in to my first Airbnb. I spent days beating myself up for overestimating my confidence. It didn’t seem possible that I will be able to manage on my own for the next weeks, let alone months! But trust me, all of that will pass and you will wonder what was there to be panicked about. Being alone in a foreign place is not easy and might never get easy. Lonely is the feeling that I won’t ever get used to as I have learned through my solo adventure around Europe. However, when you focus on what you can do, you will realize that there is nothing you cannot overcome. The lessons and cultures I have learned and experienced, the people I have encountered, and the friendships I have made along the eight countries I have been to definitely worth the emotional discomfort. After all, “fear is only as deep as the mind allows.” – Japanese Proverb
You will learn the most when you venture out of your comfort zone. My life in Norway has rendered me a significant amount of knowledge, especially knowledge about myself. I learn how to be comfortable with being by myself. I learn that positive and negative factors in my life are completely dependent on whether I allow them to exist or not. I learn to be a more effective student because school can be challenging when you are studying in the most prestigious university in Norway.
– Grace Ngoc Nguyen, USAC program at University of Oslo in Norway, Fall 2017