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How to be Brave

  How to be brave while living abroad in the French Riviera, six simple steps:

Try new things - It's as simple as it sounds -- getting over the fear of newness is a big deal! This can mean trying a new food for the first time, like me recently with fried squid, or it can mean walking to a new part of town. No matter what it is, these little things add up and prepare you for the next step toward being brave...

Force yourself out of your comfort zone - This is crucial to taking advantage of studying abroad. Right now, as I write this blog, I am sitting in the lobby of a hostel in Barcelona. Yesterday, I wandered around town and had lunch with a perfect stranger from Korea and today I explored with an American who lives in France. I went on a walking tour by myself, and then grabbed an empanada from a market. Tomorrow, I leave for Seville and then onto Madrid for another few days. So, yes, hanging out with strangers and travelling alone is way out of my comfort zone, but it is an amazing experience that I recommend to anyone.
Make plans - Rather than passively let things happen, make things happen. Book a trip to Dublin for a weekend or a train to Paris. When you make these plans, you force yourself to discover new places. Put yourself in new situations. When I booked my trips in Spain, I did it in advance so that I wouldn't get scared and back out. Having a real plan (even if it is just the plane ticket) forces you to get ready for an adventure.
Have a list of your fears (even just at a mental list)  - Do things that scare you. If you have a fear of heights, this does not mean that you have to go and climb the highest mountain, it just means that you should stretch the limits of your fear. I'm not comfortable with heights at all. Recently, I climbed up on a cliff in the Esteral mountains in France. It was a windy day, but clearly, I survived. You see, it's okay to be scared, that shouldn't always stop you.

Realize your limits - It's okay if you can't do everything, if you aren't 100% fearless. So, you can't hold a snake - great, fear means that you are human. All that you have to do is try to push past your fears, and be proud of every little victory on your way to being fearless.

Know what being brave really means - It is important to realize that being brave does not mean having no fears. It means accepting that things scare you, but doing them anyway. I'm afraid of taking the metro system alone in Spain because it's complicated, but I do it anyway. I hate sleeping in a room full of strangers alone, but I just bury my head under the pillow and get over myself. I'm scared of looking weird or lonely when I sit at a table at a restaurant alone, but I keep my head up and let myself enjoy the food and the ambiance. All that you need to do to be brave is the things that scare you.
Being brave is more of a mission than an adjective. It is an important goal to bear in mind as you discover new cultures and new people.

Laura Bastings is the Spring 2016 CEA MOJO blogger in The French Riviera, France. She is currently a sophomore at Towson University.

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