“A Song for a Different Dance”: A short note on FOMO

On the train from Berlin back to Prague, a girl in my program said she hadn’t done her homework yet, but that was a “song for a different dance.” 

I’d never heard this phrase before and it charmed me immediately. While she used it to refer to her homework, it applies to many aspects of studying abroad. 

Something that I have been struggling with recently is feeling like I am not making the most of my time in Prague. I’ll look at my neighbor in class and see they’re booking flights to Spain, Portugal, or France for the weekend. I’ll go on Instagram and see people from my program at trendy restaurants or famous landmarks. It’s hard not to be afraid that I’m wasting my time, that I’m not doing enough. 

Views from the train. Somewhere in the German countryside.

But studying abroad isn’t just about traveling every weekend and getting your pictures in front of Prague Castle or on the Charles Bridge. Of course, those are fun elements of studying abroad and one of the reasons people choose to study off-campus. Still, in addition to that, studying abroad is about building a new routine from scratch in a foreign country. It’s about adjusting to life in a different culture and gaining independence you may have never built before. It’s about becoming confident in yourself, your identity, and your ability to move through a multicultural world. It’s about learning how to go to the grocery store and not royally mess up. 

This takes time, and it won’t happen overnight. I know I still get nervous every time I walk into Lidl, my local grocery store chain. But I already feel challenged, stretched, and grown up, which I think is the point of studying abroad. 

When I frame my study abroad experience in this way, I don’t feel as much pressure to keep up. To borrow from the girl in my train compartment, I realize we all have our own songs for different dances. No two people are going to have the same study-abroad experience, nor should they. 

So, as I move into my third week in Prague, I am going to keep this thought in mind. Yes, I’ll plan trips and visit Prague Castle, but I’ll also count grocery shopping and taking the trams as big victories. I’ll listen to my own song and do my own dance. 

After all, life happens in the mundane. Even life abroad. 

Published by Lauren Schiller

Class of 2024 Communication and Chinese Studies Major CIEE Communication, New Media, & Journalism in Czech Republic

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