I want to talk about something that I feel like isn’t normally touched on when people talk about going abroad: Setting goals. Actually more importantly, “doing” goals. It is easy to go abroad with the goal being, well, going abroad. However, having goals to achieve while you are abroad is what grounds you where you’re at.

This might disappoint you, but it is for your own good! I have heard many stories and seen many people around me who go abroad, spend most of their time in their room, and then go back to their home country filled with copious amounts of regret. Now, this wouldn’t be a problem if the time they spent inside felt meaningful to them (and therefore would leave no regretful feelings behind). However, most of these stories I’ve heard seem like the “victims” entered this sort of limbo space, not quite sure what to do with themselves in this new country.

The feeling of not knowing what to do with oneself

I want to iterate that I am by no means saying that these people are failures or that they did something wrong. Everyone reacts to new environments differently and there is nothing wrong with recognizing that you feel uncomfortable with the sudden changes in your life. In fact, I have experienced that very feeling! If you go abroad for an extended period of time, you are likely to experience it too, and I’m going to tell you how I have, over time, been learning to deal with it.

Exploring everyday is exhausting. Once you’ve tried every KitKat flavor, and had a convenience store machine make your coffee enough times, you don’t care for the shiny stuff so much. Human beings at our core are pretty greedy, and we get used to new shiny things pretty fast (and then want more). Your new friends you made are busy, or you’ve got a bunch of school work that prevents you from hopping on a shinkansen to a new place of wonder, and man you’re tired of not knowing what to do with yourself. This is where I think setting goals and working towards them is really beneficial while you’re abroad, or even when you feel your life stalling period.

So many KitKat flavors

Studying abroad is just living in a new place. No matter where you go, life follows. If you were back in your hometown, you probably aren’t going on crazy adventures everyday or meeting strangers in cinematic ways. What makes living our day to day lives exciting is having something we are working towards. Not only will these goals give you a sense of meaning amidst a time where you feel out of a place, but it will also give you more confidence within that place as you accomplish more.

Let me give you an example. Recently I decided I wanted to add weight lifting and running at least two times a week to my routine. While I can weight lift in my room (I have my ways), if I want to run, I have to run outside. The first time I ran outside I felt weird, but because I had this goal, I knew what I had to do! I had a purpose behind my action which triumphed over any hesitation leaving my room. With time, I have gotten really comfortable running outside, and now feel really comfortable with the area I live in. Even have had some nice interactions with locals because of it (dropped my keys haha!)

Looking at the next goal ahead

You can make your goals anything. Whether it is working towards a new skill, expanding your social life, or even doing things that only real locals would do, like going to a part-time job interview (blog post on that soon!). You will regret sitting in your room doing nothing, but you won’t regret sitting in your room doing something that matters to you. If you really want to LIVE in a new country, you can’t leave yourself behind!

Happy Goal-doing 🙂

Published by Abby

Class of 2023 Dance Performance and Japanese Language Studies Dual Major Waseda University - Tokyo, Japan

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