It was a typically cold and damp night in Manchester where I had recently started my undergraduate degree in English And American literature in 2009. I woke up at about 3am in a confused panic about a decision I had recently made to study abroad in Paris. The stream of fantasies that had been flowing through my mind for weeks had suddenly stopped. Where would I wash my clothes? Where would I buy my contact lenses? Can I watch Match of the Day over there? As the time got closer and closer, the visions of wandering around Paris like a character out of Ernest Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast or a Jean-Luc Godard film had gone away, replaced by a mix of nerves and anxiety. I ultimately decided not to study abroad for a year and it was a conclusion I almost immediately regretted.
Ever since that fateful week spent in my shoebox-sized dorm room playing games of 'Fifa 10' and watching obscure art-house films to impress people, I made a promise to myself. If I ever got even the chance to take part in a similar exchange abroad, I would take it and grasp it with both hands. Eight long years later, I have finally realised my 19-year-old's ambition to work in Europe, with a teaching position in Luebeck, Germany. Throughout that time, having completed my MA degree in 2016, I went from job to job in England, not being particularly happy in any one position. In those times it felt as if things would never really change.
The advice I would give to any young person who is perhaps overthinking whether or not to work or study abroad is to just do it! Unfortunately our lives aren’t rehearsals and, even though I was lucky enough to get a second chance, opportunities to travel, explore and embrace the world can be few and far between. The number of new friends, exposure to different cultures, and new experiences I have already got in just one month in Germany have been incredible and have made an impact on my life. Don’t be like me, mournfully watching Amélie whilst staring into the Manchester rain. Go and live the adventurous life you dream about.
Have you ever had to make a similar decision?