The Two Biggest Things I Wish I Would Have Known

BeiWallBy: Lindsey Barrett, Peer Advisor in the Office of Global Opportunities, Beijing

DISCLAIMER:

Your first time abroad without your family is going to have some stressful times. Some would even say that it can be scary. I’m here to tell you that is perfectly normal. If you are stepping outside of your comfort zone, you are doing it right. Be nervous, go places that challenge your perspective, talk to people you don’t seem to have anything in common with, and eat the weird food (but use common sense, please).

My point is:

GET OUT THERE

The most wonderful thing (of all the numerous wonderful things) that going abroad has given me is perspective that I would have never received otherwise.

Different countries have different languages, cultures, foods, manners, and customs. Chances are, most of the differences you’re going to encounter will have you thinking, “No way, that rocks” or “That’s actually very logical” and even “Why haven’t I been doing this my whole life?”. These are the moments that are symptoms of a commonly known and contagious disease – the travel bug.

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As much as I encourage having to figure things out for yourself, there are a few things that I wish I would have known that I am willing to let you in on.

I promise they won’t spoil anything for you.

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Wish #1

I WISH SOMEONE WOULD HAVE TOLD ME:

“Linds, seriously, make the most of every moment you’re there.”

Wait, a lot of people told me that…

I wish I would have listened. I had so much access to so many amazing places. Temples, museums, shopping plazas, historical monuments, and renowned restaurants… all of which were a short subway ride away and I chose to nap and lounge in my dorm for around 3 hours a day for the 7 weeks that I was in BEIJING.

Thats 147 hours that I could have been exploring the largest city, political center, and historic center of CHINA. 147 hours of memories. 147 hours of hanging out with the fantastic people that I met through my trip. In hindsight, that 147 hours was wasted. Do not make the same mistake.

Hindsight View: “WHAT WAS I EVEN THINKING!? SLEEP IS NOT THAT IMPORTANT”

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PHOTO TAKEN BY OLIVIA RAINEY

Wish #2

I WISH SOMEONE WOULD HAVE TOLD ME:

“Pack photo-ready clothes so you don’t look like a summer camp counselor in all of your pictures.”

I think this speaks for itself. I think I wore this shirt and khaki shorts on almost all of our off-campus excursions. I wore a t-shirt and decent-lengthed shorts to some of the coolest and most social-media-worth places: the Summer Palace, the Great Wall (above), the Emperor’s Bath Garden, and the Terracotta Warriors to just name a few. I got to see a lot of things that are on the whole world’s bucket list and while I am extremely fond of these memories, I wish I hadn’t looked like an OU tour guide in the process. These are the photos EVERYONE wants to see. Not my cutest moments. Much regret.

Hindsight View: “Come on, Linds. WHYYY?”

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*Extra wish*

I wish that you consider these things seriously when you go abroad, be it for school, internship, or leisure. My experience helped shape me in ways that I can’t describe on a blog, in a phone call, or even in person.

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