Author: Ben Beaty, Semester in Thailand, Spring 2018
Hello! My name is Ben, and since studying abroad, I have gone through difficulties, but I have conquered them and ultimately become more comfortable with myself, feeling encouraged and empowered.
Here is my story:
The first two weeks of my trip were the forming and storming stages; hundreds of visiting and exchange students from around the world converge on one place and start building relationships, friendships to last lifetimes.
These two weeks were difficult for me. Friendships that last a lifetime? That is daunting.
I had just traveled to the other side of the globe by myself and needed some time to decompress. As an introvert, I wanted to journal, to watch a movie, to get away, but I also knew that these were crucial weeks. These weeks can define how my experience will go.
So I pushed myself out of my comfort zone. I was hanging out with dozens of different people 24/7 – during meals, in between classes, going on daytrips – you name it, and I had a buddy with me. I wanted to make sure that I had a great group of friends for the next four months.
But constantly being with people tires me – that is the nature of an introvert. Add to that the chaos of each day with no set schedule the first two weeks, and I started to break down. There were points when I actually considered boarding the next flight home.
It was at this point when I realized that I was not keeping my mental and emotional health in check. I have a set schedule at home; I have a great group of friends that I hang with regularly; I have a supportive family that I keep in touch with normally. But I did not notice these factors until two weeks in, when I was worn and ready to leave. Once I pinpointed the factors, I was able to work on them.
As classes started, I began a set schedule. Once past the storming phase and into the norming phase, I had made friends; in fact, we still travel together now! I began talking with all my family back home multiple times per week, and they showered me with support and love.
Even though I still do not have set weekly schedule, I know what to expect from each day beforehand. And even though my new friends are not my friends from home, they are incredible, my support system to hug and love on while away, and we get to know each other better every day. And even though my family is twelve hours behind me, I still manage to talk with them at least once a week.
So yes, life here is far from perfect, despite what my Instagram would shout. But I am always acclimating, always in a state of flux and flexibility – because that is study abroad.
I would not have it any other way; studying abroad in Thailand is one of the best decisions I have made in my life.
To learn more about Ben’s experience with CISabroad in Thailand, check out his travel blog.