Two years ago, at this time, I was preparing myself to study abroad. I was going to have my IELTS exam on January 11th, 2020, while I was determined to learn art somewhere in Europe. 11 months later, after lots of ups and downs, I ended up beginning my master’s in astrophysics and cosmology in Italy.

Two years ago, I was living off my parents. I was mainly playing the role of the youngest child in my family, who constantly received support and attention. I had never faced any severe financial concern nor never had been fully responsible for my life. I had my food prepared for me. And I had almost all of my emotional needs fulfilled by my friends and family. If I needed a proper hug, I could have it any time. If I needed a shoulder to cry on, I could have it right away. I expected my mom to prepare food for me all the time. I had taken my family for granted, feeling like they were always there if I wanted them to be.

On the contrary, I had to share my room with my sister. If I wanted to go on a trip, I needed to ask for my parent’s permission. If I had stayed out late, I could have gotten in trouble. I was an English teacher, and I used to think that I would remain an English teacher. Two years ago, I was a girl who had never felt homesick and genuinely lonely.

Now I am living indepentldly. I do my laundry. I cook for myself. I am there for myself, and I try to take care of myself. Sometimes, I don’t have anyone to hug, so I hug my knees instead. I pay more attention to what I eat because I don’t want to be sick. I spend more attention to whom I make friends with because I feel more responsible for my mental health.

Sometimes, I encounter financial issues. But I am more responsible and more independent compared to the past. I choose what to eat and when to eat. I make my own schedule. I go on trips if I want to. I can do whatever I want. Although I work way harder than before, I feel way more hopeful about the future. Now I am an international master’s student in astrophysics, and I have gone through periods of complete loneliness and homesickness.

According to my a-year and a half experience, my biggest challenges studying abroad are stress and anxiety management, loneliness, and financial crisis. Before coming here, I had a long list of my fears for which I had cried many times. There was fear of loneliness, fear of any kind of trouble a family member, lacking money, having no friends, and losing touch with my loved ones because of being physically distant. Except for the last one, almost all of them happened to me.

And yet, here I am. All alive, the same as before. I realized that sometimes the fear of something is worse than that thing itself. One by one, I am facing my fears. I am living my worries. I feel stronger, honestly. I learned that it’s impossible to choose our fears or to control our lives in a way to avoid them. Still, we have the power to be open to them, and instead of predicting the whole probable scenario in our mind way more in advance, let our future selves make decisions at a time. 

It is like everything in life. There are pros and cons. I don’t think that It’s about the benefits we are willing to get; it’s about the prices we choose to pay. I have decided to pursue science and become an astrophysicist, but also to be far from my family and sometimes painfully homesick. Am I going to make it? I don’t know. What I do know is that I am putting so much effort into this journey, and I prefer to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

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