I never thought I’d fly half way around the world. The idea of it really scared me.
In High-School, I’d met many exchange students. I could describe most of them in this way: full of life, young, living with families they didn’t know, and most likely they spoke a different language. I am sure you knew some fun study abroad students from your school too!
I was always drawn to these people because there was something drastically and beautifully different about them. Not just because they were from another country and that their accents were gorgeous! But because they’d seen so much of the world and in my eyes they were much further ahead than those who had never been out of their state.
It was one day in the library at my Middle School that changed my 8th grade year. Her name was Silvia Atanosava. And she became my best friend that year!
My family took her under our wing. It was almost like I had a big sister. She was an exchange student from Bulgaria which, before meeting her I had never even heard of that country. I know, right?
After seeing her come here on her own, I found myself thinking, “Maybe, I will go study and travel abroad someday as well.”
While in Mexico on a family vacation in 2009, I decided I wanted to stay there and maybe study abroad. As soon as I got home I looked into the qualifications of studying abroad in certain countries.
I’d studied Spanish in High-School, but hadn’t been speaking it or listening to it for a few years.
Which got me thinking… Hmm… where is it warm… and where they also speak English.
Only one place hopped into my mind as swiftly as a kangaroo.
It was a continent and country of it’s own. A red country full of desert, a country full of accents, kangaroos, koalas, dingos, and giant poisonous spiders, and snakes. Or at least that is what I thought!
There were many moments that I almost backed out of studying abroad, but I stuck it out.
You know the feeling when you sit down for the evening and get all covered in blankies. You are comfortable.
One of the worst feelings is being asked to get up and grab something for someone.
That’s how it felt for me too.
It wasn’t easy even when I shared my dreams of studying abroad with others. Their doubts fired the large fiery doubt-fire inside of me more than they probably knew.
There are certain things that people say that really feed the fire. Here are some of those things:
Here is my “Doubt and Reason List”:
- It’s just so far away
- All my family and friends were here
- You could die at any moment in Australia from a spider or snake or shark (hmm… I wonder if there is a reason they all begin with an S”
- What if I can’t understand them? (There were actually days I would imagine sitting in class listening to an Aussie teacher talk. I worried I’d pay attention to the tone of their voices and miss the homework assignment. Silly me, I know.)
- What if something happened while I was away?
I had so many people announcing these things to me like I didn’t know it already.
It was like “Come on. I am having a tough time doing this already, and you aren’t helping me any.”
I didn’t really say that. I just smiled and nodded my head and tried ignoring them the best I could.
Taking The Leap of Faith
What it really comes down to is: Taking a leap of faith.
That’s what I had to do. It wasn’t easy.
I then worked up the nerves to tell my parents that I was “Thinking” yes… maybe thinking… about studying abroad.
As soon as I mentioned it they got super excited and encouraged me to take the leap and go for it.
I didn’t know which way I was going to end up going or what was ahead for me.
All I knew was that God was in Control. I had my 2 huge suitcases packed to the brim with everything I’d need for the semester in Australia. I was ready to go.
Let me be honest, though.
It was really hard walking through the security check-point in Fargo, North Dakota.
It was tough walking with my back to my parents and brother. (My sister was in a dance camp – so she wasn’t there.)
It was almost like my heart was slowly breaking. But, I guess that is something one must go through when growing up.
Tips To Help You Take The Leap of Faith
- Get ready for it.
- Remind yourself that it isn’t forever, but it could have a huge impact on your life.
- Trust God, let him lead you.
- Stay calm.
- Tell those you love how much you love and appreciate them.
- Have a way to connect.
- Have everything planned out so you know where to go each step of the way.
Believing In Those You Love When They Make The Leap
The other day my hairstylist told me that her daughter wants to go into missionary work. She is only 17-years-old, but already knows with a passion what she wants to do.
I was thinking that was awesome. I mean there are so many young people out there who don’t have an idea of what they want to do for the rest of their lives.
But what surprised me was the mother’s response to her daughter’s dreams. It was sad. She said “I don’t want her to travel far away from me, so I’m going to encourage her not to go into that.”
That’s really sad.
I mean you can understand that the mother doesn’t want to let go of her daughter, but doing that will only make her daughter push away from her.
I can tell you, I know so many people who want their children’s dreams to come true, but if it means they won’t live close to home then it’s forget those dreams.
And that isn’t a nice feeling for the child. It isn’t nice for the child to feel like they need to pick between living near to home or following their dreams (or following what God has for them.)
“Then, how can I encourage my loved ones to follow their dreams even if it means living further away?”
- Love them.
- Tell them they can do anything they dream. Tell them the sky is the limit.
- Encourage their dreams even though it’s hard.
- Trust them. That they will make great decisions.
- Help them realize they won’t be losing family because they are moving away or following their dreams. (Because they won’t. Yes, they may not be near home, but that doesn’t mean you’ve lost them. And I know this one can be hard.)
Make Sure You Follow Your Dreams No Matter What Others Think
What are your dreams? Have you ever experienced having someone question your dreams? Or have you ever questioned someone else’s dreams? What are some other good ways to deal with people who question your dreams?