Year Abroad FOMO (fear of missing out) is real.
But so is Year Abroad Guilt.
I anticipated that I would sometimes feel lonely out here, away from my friends and family who are getting on with normal life at home or uni. But what I never expected was feeling guilty about not doing things constantly.
Life goes on for everyone else, whilst you are away. It’s a simple, albeit sad, fact. For me, Tuesday nights are usually the most difficult. This is when Korfball training happens at Uni. I wish I was there with my friends, playing the sport I love. But I’m not. And I have to accept that the show still goes on without me.
At the moment, I am particularly missing family life. It’s Christmas time, which, for me, means family time. I don’t get to watch I’m A Celeb or Strictly, whilst putting up Christmas decorations or wrapping presents. So, this year, the countdown to Christmas is at the forefront of my mind. (Well, the countdown to my flight home for Christmas, at least!)
You feel guilty for not being out doing things all the time. But if you think, if you were at home right now, you’d have down days too. It is simply because you are in another country, full of new opportunities, that you feel like you should be travelling and doing things all the time to make the most of it. You feel guilty because you are actually in such a lucky position to be living in another country for a year and feel that you need to make the most of it. Time will go fast, and you don’t want to reflect and regret.
Both of these feelings of missing out and guilt are mainly brought about by social media. You see people doing amazing things on their years abroad or at home. There are people in the same country as you, who take trips every week, which makes you think, why am I not doing that? Or when year abroad students visit home more often than you, you wonder whether you should be seeing your family and friends more. Plus, friends at home are doing things you normally would, so the green-eyed monster starts creeping in and you wish that you were there.
However, it’s important to remember that on social media, you only see the happy moments of people’s lives, and that includes those on their year abroad. People only post what they choose to post. So, you aren’t going to post your lazy days or sad times online. I know this myself; I would never do this. My year abroad Instagram account is solely pictures of day trips I’ve taken and interesting things I’ve done. I don’t share the embarrassing or dull moments.
So, upon this reflection, I need to remember not to believe everything you see on social media. I don’t normally, so why has my year abroad made me feel this way? The only reasoning, I can think of is because you are feeling lonely so keep yourself occupied with your phone, which only makes the loneliness spiral.
I think the key message regarding social media, in general, is not to believe everything you see because you don’t see everything.
Year Abroad students is it true, we are missing out on what’s going on at home. But, think, everyone back there is missing out on what you’re doing too. And feeling guilty about not being constantly busy is pointless. It is a difficult feeling to shake but we have just got to remember that if we were at home right now, we would be perfectly okay with having a duvet day. The same applies abroad.
You have to do what’s best for you. And you should never feel guilty for doing that.