I’ve been told the first thing that people notice about me is that I am a planner. I like a clear cut schedule of things. I’m always the friend that people go to when they want to plan trips. I’m truly only calm when I know what I’m getting myself into.
Studying abroad is one of the few things that I had no idea what to expect. No amount of prior traveling, blog posts, or study abroad TikToks would have ever helped me feel truly prepared. Moving to a country I had never been to with people I had never met, is one of the few things I have done truly blind. Doing it while there is still a global pandemic on is somewhat unprecedented (nothing my planner brain is used to).
When deciding on which program I wanted to go with, I was looking for a place that was completely different from the Southern California culture I grew up in. I also wanted a deeper integration into student life, so I was looking for exchange programs that gave me a better grasp on daily life in another country. CEA seemed like the program that covered these bases, and learning that they had such a strong study abroad program in Prague had my decision settled.
The months leading up to departure, I was a good mix of nervous and excited. I admit to romanticizing living in Europe for a good portion of my life. I was looking forward to prettier views as I walked home from class and being able to dress like a European. After spending the last two years with a limited education and social life, I was more than ready to leave the US behind for a bit.
The main thing I kept in mind to overcome the nervousness was knowing that everyone else felt the exact same way I did. In the first few days of arriving in Prague, that became evident. We all bonded over how much our life was changing, and putting a name to our uneasiness is actually what bonded us. I’m still in the beginning stages of my program, and there’s so much time left for things to change, but I do know that I would have regretted it if I backed out of studying abroad.
I’m not going to lie, there were also practical struggles that I had to deal with the last few weeks leading up to departure. Getting up to date information on COVID and the gamble on whether or not my visa would come in time were some of the things that I contacted CEA about pretty often. Any questions I had regarding the pandemic, Visa struggles, or just the program in general were quickly answered, and my planner brain was put at ease for the most part.
The main issue I needed to face was the mental struggles. I can’t deny the wave of anxiety that I had that last few days leading up to my flight. I didn’t (and still barely) know a word of Czech. I didn’t know anyone from my University who was going. It had crossed my mind that maybe I took on more than I could handle. But I also knew that I was equipped to handle pretty much anything.
Kathryn Yellin is the Spring 2022 CEA MOJO Blogger in Prague, Czech Republic, and is currently studying at Chapman University.