There are many difficulties in studying abroad, but they all seem to come so easily, so naturally. Trying new foods, understanding and immersing in a foreign culture, constantly socializing, and trying to communicate and navigate in a land where you hardly speak the language, I spend one day after the next leaping out of my formerly small comfort zone, and being comfortable about being, well, uncomfortable. I like that. Living with a combined “When in Rome,” and “Sleep When You’re Dead” mentality has become a way of life, hardly imaginable a few years ago.
Before venturing to the Land of Unknowns I now know to be Austria, I found myself nervously excited for my next big adventure. The fear of living in a foreign country where I do not know a single person or the language was captivatingly exciting, so I (over)packed my bags and boarded a plane bound for endless adventure.
There is excitement in new found opportunities, and quite frankly, if you never try, you’ll never know.
The biggest difficulty for me has been the language barrier. Boarding the bus, navigating busy train stations, or going to a store or café is a seemingly never ending challenge.
But there is something fun in that challenge.
That challenge forces me to constantly learn. Yes, I have, many a times, spoken probably-lower-than-elementary-level German to bus drivers, sales clerks, waiters, and passersby, looking like a fool as I gesture and wave my hands, thinking that it will make my words more recognizable, but this process and frustration only makes ordering and paying for a croissant in perfectly conversant German all the more rewarding.
So in the end, it is okay to look like a fool, gesturing the not so international sign for “Will This Bus Get Me Home?”, it is okay to order something on the menu that you have never heard of and have it end up being liver, it is okay to hop on a bus only to find it’s not going anywhere near your intended destination, it is okay to get lost in the streets of a new city and find yourself again (in more than one way), and it is okay to book now and think later. It is okay because if you never try, you’ll never know.