Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder: when the FOMO is a little too real to handle.
At some point in time, studying abroad loses a little bit of its magic. Maybe it’s the day that you take a seat in a classroom full of strangers and think, “Not only have I forgotten how to hold this pen, but it seems like I’ve also forget how to learn…even though that’s what I’m here to do.”
Maybe the magic fades away a month or two after getting settled in. Just as soon as you thought you had a sense of London, you get lost in Seven Dials with a dead phone and have to hope you’re headed in the right direction.
Or perhaps you’re a part of the invincible minority that hasn’t felt that study abroad has lost its magic at all. You weren’t unnerved by how accusatory those British customs officers’ questions were at Heathrow in September, so they surely didn’t faze you in January. You’re juggling country-hopping, classes, and the Tube like a pro—and all with a new group of friendly faces. Sure, you might be wearing black from head-to-toe like all the Londoners, but it isn’t because you’re in any type of mourning. You’ve mastered the grumpy-yet-snazzy European style and are living your best life.
But no one is invincible forever. Everyone hits a wall. If life is a rollercoaster, then studying abroad is when that sixteen-year-old amusement park worker falls asleep at their station and accidentally hits the “2x speed” on the switch board. Living and studying abroad feels a lot like a crash course in life. You experience the highs of independence in a foreign land, but also endure the lows of solitude in an unfamiliar society—all at top speed. With so many people willing to talk about the magic of studying abroad, it’s a shame that too many are embarrassed to talk about the lows.
Some students miss their sunny homelands and feel miserable in the cloudy aura of London. Others miss being able to FaceTime family and friends without a bad internet connection cutting a lively conversation short. Maybe you’re like me and really hate the fact that the one year you’re not in the Philadelphia area for school, your favorite American football team (the Philadelphia Eagles) is going to the Super Bowl for the first time in 13 years and you won’t be with your people (Bryn Mawr and Philadelphia) to celebrate the beat down of the godforsaken New England Patriots.
I came to LSE with the understanding that I would be challenged and learn plenty about international relations. Clearly, I forgot that the “living abroad” part of studying abroad can be just as challenging and just as enlightening. FOMO isn’t just the fear of missing out on traditions and reunions with family and friends from time to time. It can also be missing the small things too.
I thought I signed up to study four courses in international relations when I showed up at LSE in September. Turns out that I also accidentally enrolled in a management class too: “(Life) Management 105: FOMO and its Many Forms”.