In September 2020, I found myself in precautionary quarantine for two full weeks in my dorm. For two full weeks I left my room only to go downstairs to pick up my delivered meals and go for brief walks. I suddenly found myself with an abundance of time on my hands.
During that time, I finally picked up a hardcover book that had been at the top of my to-be-read list. Christine Riccio’s Again, but Better. The YA Fiction book tells the story of a girl who studies abroad in the hopes of rewriting her college experience. The story features quite a few fantasy elements that pull it away from reality, but the sentiment about new experiences and fresh starts at the heart of the book reigns true.
I might not want to rewrite my college experience, but the idea of new experiences and traveling was enough for me to reach out to my university’s study abroad office. As someone who has never been outside of the United States, it’s an intimidating thought to be on a whole new continent. But even more intimidating is the idea of planning out this fabulous, life-changing, perspective-shifting experience and then not being able to follow through on it.
Last Spring, I watched my dejected sorority sisters make their way home from their study abroad trips after only a few weeks because of the Coronavirus pandemic. With the massive amounts of uncertainty surrounding vaccine release dates and border openings, I feel a little wary about making plans to travel to Europe.
Originally, I had been hoping to go abroad in the Fall of my junior year (Fall 2021), but as we move closer to the end of 2020, the probability of that decreases spectacularly. In order to give myself the best chance to actually go abroad, I have shifted to going abroad in Spring of my junior year (Spring 2022).
The process of planning to go abroad starts with lots and lots of assessing what you want your experience to look like. Do you have a particular country you want to study in? Do you want to be in a major city? Do you have certain credits you need to fill? Do you have a certain price point? These are all questions posed to me by a study abroad representative from my university.
Once you have at least a general idea of where you want to be you can start looking for programs. That’s the step I’m on. Currently I am sorting through a large stack of programs on the Drake University Study Abroad Website because I’m not sure where in Europe I want to study. I will document this process as I move through it.