FOMO: Study abroad edition


By Kate Cullen

This time last year, like many others students, I was studying abroad in London. 

It was a magical time full of traveling, sight seeing and Nutella filled crepes. Many describe the study abroad experience as the “semester long spring break,” and I don’t disagree with them because studying abroad is more about expanding your cultural horizons than it is about textbook education. 

Basically, it’s a lot of fun. 

So, as many of our peers have begun their adventures abroad this semester, it is safe to say that the upperclassmen who have also studied abroad are incredibly jealous. Even those who have not studied abroad are envious, as they sit and ponder the possibility of traveling abroad. 

Those currently studying abroad have not shied away from documenting and sharing their experiences thus far. See any Facebook newsfeed for evidence because I’m sure almost everyone knows someone who is currently studying abroad.

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The endless Instagram pictures of delicious food, the touristy shots in front of incredible monuments and the statuses about traveling to exotic places are leaving everyone in Champaign FOMO-ing hard. For those of you unaware of what FOMO is, it is an acronym that stands for “fear of missing out.” 

And sadly, everyone who is not currently abroad has come down with severe cases of FOMO. 

For those of us who have already studied abroad, symptoms include, but are not limited to: frequently stalking your pictures from when you were abroad, bringing up your travel experiences in any and all conversations and overloading your friends who are currently abroad with advice about things to do. Those who have not studied abroad may also experience extreme feelings of regret, which include re-evaluating their decision-making abilities entirely. 

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, you are officially FOMO-ing and living vicariously through your friends who were trying to get rid of you in the first place by going abroad. Congratulations.

But don’t worry, you are not alone. There are many people suffering from the same predicament and your feelings about wishing you were still abroad are justified. If you are experiencing jealous sentiments, that means you fully enjoyed your time abroad and are aware of how incredibly lucky you are to have had the opportunity. 

If you aren’t already FOMO-ing, here are some reasons why you should feel immensely jealous of those currently studying abroad. 

First and foremost, the opportunities to travel at a cheaper rate than in the U.S. is a huge reason why many wish they were still abroad. Traveling throughout the different countries in Europe is similar to travelling between the states in the U.S., but you are able to experience a wider range of cultures, foods and people. 

Experiencing a different culture every weekend is something only studying abroad can give you because you have the ability to travel cheaply from country to country. Many who have studied abroad miss the ability to hop on a plane or a train and instantly be immersed in a new country and experience their culture. 

The next, and arguably the most important point, is the amazing food you have while traveling to different countries. Yes, there are times when you are forced to have a warm tuna sandwich while rushing to catch a flight, but as a whole, being abroad widens your food palette in the some of the best possible ways. 

There is gelato in Italy, paella in Spain, fish and chips in the U.K. and crepes in Paris. Nothing says fun like gaining ten pounds of deliciousness. 

Finally, many may miss studying abroad because it offers the opportunity to meet and learn from people of different cultures. Almost everyone who studies abroad lives or interacts with people from a country other than the U.S. on a regular basis — and that is a gift. 

Some of my most memorable moments from studying abroad were when my flatmates and I would discuss the differences between the U.K. and the U.S. These conversations prompted questions and interesting discussions, which enabled us to learn and understand each other better. Meeting interesting people of various cultures while studying abroad is a privilege that many enjoyed having. 

For those of you who are reminiscing hardcore about your time abroad, know that I, like many, are right there with you. Maybe we can start a support group where we can purge on talking about studying abroad — because I’m sure all of our friends are sick of hearing about it from us. And for those currently abroad, keep the pictures coming. 

We secretly love to hate you.

Kate is a senior in LAS. She can be reached at [email protected].