…. or how to hurry up and wait.
One of the most important things in considering whether you want to study abroad is actually just that…. decide whether you actually want to or not. Now, the entirety of the process is not that easy, yet the first and most important step a person can take is actually to simply decide it is something they want to pursue. Usually, this is done after a lot of thought and consideration to studies, finances, family and friends, and all the other multitude of things that can be effected by your decision.
Obviously, I did none of this.
A previous semester, when I was a sophomore, I had thought about trying to study abroad and had actually checked into it… yet it was actually after the deadline required, and so I basically dropped it there. After that, I honestly got so caught up in my schoolwork, I didn’t even give going to japan another thought, let alone the concept of study abroad. Yet it would seem as though fate had something else in store for me.
Fast forward to Fall Semester, Senior year. Again, at this point, I had given little thought to studying abroad. I had seen some of the posters, and there was actually a board with information about it, yet it was usually glanced over in the daily drive. But I happened to have a good buddy of mine named Jason that had begun to check into studying abroad to Nagoya, Japan. Now studying abroad is always gonna be a great experience, yet the idea of being able to do so with one of my close buddies was something that was going to almost guarantee that I would have an even greater time. So when he let me know he was applying, without little real thought, I decided to do so as well…. with only about a week or two before the deadline for the semester!
Now, allow me to say at this point… when you might read things online that say get started studying abroad early, they really mean it! I had to jump through a lot of hooks, had to get paperwork passed in a much faster time-frame than it was likely ever meant. (The next entry in this blog will go a little more in-depth about exactly what kind of paperwork I am talking about). But if you are like me, and might read things that tell you to start planning a year out (ie if its fall semester, they might tell you to plan for NEXT fall semester), you might think that is WAY too far away. BUT TAKE IT SERIOUSLY! Not only does it allow you to process things at a much more leisure pace, but it lets you have plenty time to plan out everything, from school, bills, as well as properly plan any traveling you might do in the country you plan to stay in.
The exact deadline for the country you plan on visiting might vary depending upon your school, and the semester the country has. For instance, our Semesters tend to run late August to early December, then late January to mid-May. For our semester in Japan, actual classes wouldn’t start til nearly the end of march, early April! But the deadline for all the paperwork to go the next semester had to be submitted by the beginning of October (10th I believe). And that is all well and good if you start the semester working towards your paperwork, or even began it the semester before…. but when its getting to late September and you decide to begin (like I did), you might come to regret it when you have to dash about and get things done in a MUCH shorter time-frame than is ever intended.
Anyway, it took a lot of running around like a chicken with my head cut-off, taking paper from one person to the next at break-neck speed, only to have to wait a day or three for them to look it over. It was very much a game of hurry-up-and-wait. And when you have a deadline of only about two weeks, each of those days that something isn’t getting done feels like a guillotine dropping upon your dreams of being able to get that study abroad going!
But eventually, I was actually able to get everything settled before the deadline, feeling quite exhausted by the end of it… but I managed to secure studying abroad my next semester! I was rather excited at the idea (despite being a bit tired of running around). My buddy Jason joked that I was basically just playing tag-a-long for his study abroad, which may or may not be true… but it was still something I wanted to do, and looked forward to! I was that much closer to getting to visit a country I’d always been interested, and with a good friend of mine to boot!