Studying Abroad in 2011 – A New Year’s Revelation

By: Brittany B., Student Services Assistant, API Texas

(former API Peer Mentor & API Granada, Spain: Hispanic Studies Semester Program)

Many of us happily anticipate a new year. We even celebrate its arrival, eagerly tearing the plastic wrapping from our brand new photo calendars as we raise glasses of champagne. Life feels new and uncharted for the better part of week one.

But then weeks two and three arrive. I wonder how you felt on Monday morning, January 10th. I woke up with my feet stuck in molasses. Suddenly all my goals and plans for January felt like chores as my soaring new year’s motivation flat-lined. Maybe you know the feeling. For several weeks I slumped on, mulling over my lack of motivation. Then one morning, I came upon an article that offered an explanation and soon became my new year’s revelation. I was plodding in procrastination.

Unfortunately, procrastination does not typically come and go like the common cold. Instead, it prefers to work its way into our personalities until it defines us. “I am a horrible procrastinator,” we say when asked about our study or work habits. I doubt I would have used such a word to describe my initiative toward studying abroad, but in hindsight I admit that for some reason I applied the same sluggishness to planning my overseas adventure as I did to my Spanish homework that semester. I remember sitting at my desk in my dorm room in the fall of 2008, staring at my computer screen in a slump much like the one I endured this year. Already halfway through college, I thought about my dream of studying abroad and wondered if it was too late to make it happen. As I pondered my window of opportunity, a spark of hope lit my spirit. I took my first step toward Spain that day, and never looked back.

Maybe you feel stuck in a slump similar to mine. Few things can stretch your perspective and revitalize your spirit like living in a different country for a while. Have you thought about studying abroad? Perhaps you have, but you aren’t sure how to take the first step.

Hopefully these tips will clear up your confusion and help build your momentum:

  • Visit the study abroad office on your campus—bring your questions!
  • Schedule a meeting with your academic advisor to review your course load and discuss the classes you could take abroad.
  • Make an appointment with your Financial Aid Office to see if your aid can be credited toward a study abroad experience.
  • Think about the top five elements that matter to you in a study abroad location, and use them to narrow down your list of choices (e.g. small city, Spanish-speaking, warm climate, mountainous, ample course offerings in psychology, etc.).
  • Research the programs available in the cities you choose and contact the program providers to learn more. (Click here to view a complete list of API’s program sites!)

As for me, I think I have turned a corner. My January slump has begun to slump away, making room for my gusto to return again. I sense that familiar spark in my spirit, anticipating all the good things that 2011 will bring. For me, studying abroad is now a memory. For you, however, it may yet be a possibility. If you want to leave your slump in the dust, try taking a step toward your own international adventure and see where it takes you!

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  1. Love, love, loveeeeee. Way to shed the molasses and spread the motivation around 🙂

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Flashback to our Fall API student's first days in Spain. Madrid orientation with our friends from api_granada, Salamanca guided tour, and lunch tapas (+first days of classes!)

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