5 Ways To Reduce Pre-Departure Travel Anxiety
It’s officially been six weeks since I left the USA for a new home in Germany. I took what I could in three suitcases (thankfully, none of which were overweight by airline standards), and moved across the Atlantic Ocean to begin a two-year-long master’s degree in Berlin.
It has been a rollercoaster adventure already, to say the least, and while moving away from home – whether for study abroad, work, or a long-term stay with no fully-fleshed out goals in sight – is truly an experience of a lifetime, it is also one that is also extremely daunting, stressful, and full of many emotions.
If you find yourself in a similar situation, or are thinking of moving to another country to start a new adventure, be that for study, work, or just because, it’s very important to stay calm and try and lessen your anxiety before that big move. Here are some tips to help those nervous fears (or any other emotions you might have) before leaving home.
I know this seems obvious, but it is a necessary step before any move, short or long term, within your own country or into a new one. Being prepared with not just the obvious factors (such as important documents, visa information and accommodation details) but with other things you might not think about right away (like language barriers and currency conversions) will be extremely useful before stepping into a new home. If you’re moving somewhere internationally, having everything together by the time you’re at the airport (and expected to show paperwork at customs) is a weight off your shoulders that you could seriously do with.
Do your research.
Doing research is a huge part in the preparation process as well. Personally, I spent over six months scrolling relentlessly throughout the Internet before my move to Germany. Going through forums, databases and talking to people who went through similar moving experiences I did as an American helped a lot and made the transition a lot smoother. Use tools that are at your disposal. Talk to people, go to information sessions, think of questions and make sure to ask them if you have yet to hear an answer or explanation of what you need known.
Have a Plan B (and C… and maybe even D).
Along with doing the most you can to be prepared beforehand, it is also key to have a Plan B (and C) in case Plan A (the one you’ve prepared the most for) doesn’t work out upon arrival. Sometimes, the apartment that you thought was secured doesn’t work out. Sometimes, the paperwork you had sent out never got to the appropriate people. Things happen and plans fall out, and although it’s frustrating, it won’t be the first time that it happens with a move somewhere new. The key is to always have backup plans, but also, people you can rely on to help you in case you’re a bit stuck with what to do next. Which brings me to my next point:
Make as many friends and connections as you can.
One of the most difficult things I experienced during my exchange to London (and know others have experienced with their own moves abroad) is making friends. But the process of making friends doesn’t have to start the minute you land in your new home. The Internet is a great resource use to form those connections beforehand. As I mentioned above, forums, discussion boards, Facebook groups, online blogs, and especially apps for our phones are all useful tools in the process of meeting new people. As long as you’re being cautious of how you’re using these mediums, be brave and take a chance to send an email and introduce yourself (especially to people who are going to move to the same city/country as you). It truly puts your mind to know you’re not alone in the whole process.
Stay open minded.
A huge part about moving somewhere new is getting settled and accustomed to the aspects of the new culture that are unique to those of your own. Not everything is going to be the same as what you grew up with. More likely than not, most of the experiences and situations you will find yourself in will be completely different than what you’re used to. And that’s okay and completely normal. Reading about an experience and listening to what others have gone through is helpful and reassuring, but you can’t live through those secondhand experiences. You have to go through the process on your own at your own pace and level. Being open to those experiences is the biggest key to getting through it!
…which is what I’ve been doing (and will continue to do) throughout my time in Berlin!
Any other tips we missed on how best to lessen the stress that comes with moving to a new home? Let us know in the comments below!