When I was around 8 years old, my family took a road trip from Alabama to Yellowstone National Park. Along the way, we stopped at historical monuments, national parks, and amusement parks. It took a great amount of planning and preparation for my parents to pull off a cross-country trip in our van with three children, all with differing interests. However, when I was older my mom explained to me that she wanted us to learn about the country we live in by exploring and experiencing as much of it as we could. I realized how important exploring and learning about history, nature, and culture is to understanding the world around me. Therefore, learning through the experience of studying abroad about a topic that I love became a goal of mine for college. However, when I was a freshman, the pandemic began, and this goal became much harder to achieve. My options were limited, and I felt that I may not have an opportunity to study abroad with a topic that I was interested in before graduating. So, when a psychology program focusing on public policy and family wellbeing in Sweden was announced, I immediately knew that I couldn’t pass up the opportunity.
However, I am a planner, and I am not one to typically make a major decision without considering the possible outcomes and basically overthinking the process. I began to ruminate on all the steps I would need to take to prepare for this opportunity: the application process, securing scholarships, learning about the history and culture of Sweden, and taking international flights by myself for the first time. There were a lot of aspects of preparing for the trip that provided challenges, but the opportunity to explore and learn through experiences abroad outweighed the stress involved in planning. So, if the opportunity to learn about a topic you are interested in arises, plan but don’t overthink the process. Studying abroad provides a unique opportunity to learn through experience and broaden your perspective in the world that is worth the challenges of planning.