Adjusting My Sails Abroad: Don’t be Afraid to Ask for Help
By Shannon Garrity – Shannon is a GlobaLinks Learning Abroad Student from Bridgewater State University who is studying at James Cook University – Townsville, Australia.
Shannon Garrity, Study Abroad Student at James Cook University – Townsville
Elizabeth Edwards once said, “When the wind doesn’t blow your way, adjust your sails.” Her words could not ring truer right now during my study abroad experience. A few weeks ago I hurt my knee playing social soccer and some complications occurred, meaning I cannot finish my planned travels before returning home. But, honestly, the best thing anyone can do in that situation is look at the silver lining and for me, I have been blessed with so many incredible experiences here so far I cannot help but embrace the silver lining.
For one thing, it taught me something I believe is essential for anyone studying abroad to learn: don’t be afraid to ask for help. The fact is, going abroad all of us usually have that fear in the back of our minds – “what if”? No matter how much fun we are having, it is normal to get homesick, ill, injured etc. at points.
After hurting my knee, I have been on crutches ever since. I have had to go to doctor’s appointments, get to meals, get to classes etc. I cannot even begin to express how helpful everyone has been to me. Whether it was my residential assistants bringing me meals, my friends checking up on me constantly, Australians willing to drive me anywhere/everywhere I needed to go, GlobaLinks checking up on me, my international office at JCU calling me. I did not go an hour alone without someone checking up on me. And, sometimes, I needed to ask for help…
And, you know what? I am glad I did. When abroad you learn to be independent in ways beyond imagine and these past few weeks have taught me how sometimes being ‘independent” means depending upon the bonds you have formed to be by your side when needed.
Watching the Aussie sun rise on the iconic Magnetic Island, only a 20 minute ferry ride from Townsville.
So, for all those debating taking that next step to go abroad or those who may have fallen upon some personal issue abroad – never forget, that those who are studying abroad around you know what it is like to be so far from home and if you ever need help, you will never be alone, especially with all the support from GlobaLinks and the institution you are studying at. Though, I may not be able to travel to the corners of Australia anymore, I have learned something I believe is timeless – the strength of the friendships I have formed over here and sometimes being abroad a “second family” can be formed.
My friends and I enjoying our “college’s” George Robert Reaper’s Home Ball, which is similar to a semi-formal in the United States. Such a great night and celebration for the end of classes!
As I am coming to the close of my semester, some plane tickets may have to be scratched off my calendar. But, I vow to embrace the moment with all of my fellow friends worldwide…because, that is what it is all about. And, even on crutches, the memories I am continuing to make are unforgettable because of those I am sharing them with. I cherish every moment I have been able to travel even more now and this recent experience has simply made me even more grateful for the opportunity I had to come over here. Always make the best of whatever is held right in front of you because sometimes “life does happen.” And, if you catch a little wind at sea, remember that it is those who stay on the boat with you through the wind and waves who become another blessing you have from studying abroad… When it is all said it done, you will not just remember the remarkable places – but all of the amazing faces with you too.