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How Do I Begin?

By Joneil Escobar

For my first blog post, I want to give you some advice. I don’t want to spoil my experience in Beijing to you just yet and nor do I want to tell you about the unforgettable Silk Road excursion I just came back from. I will tell you that I am having the time of my life and I am happy to be here. I will reveal more details soon…

The beginning of my journey did not start in Beijing. It started back home when I was working on my application to study abroad. Since the time I sent in my application, it has been an emotional rollercoaster. Don’t worry, this is one of those rollercoasters that you want to ride again and again. The beginning is the toughest and most unclear part of adventure stories. Why is it, you ask? In the beginning, I didn’t quite know what to expect the rest of the story to be like. I was anxious and confused. Doubts and fears about studying abroad constantly ran through my head.

Will I survive not seeing my family? Will my friends back in my home university forget about me? When I return home, will it still feel like home? Will I be able to make friends? What if I get too homesick? Am I really ready to do this by myself? Is this experience worth it? Did I make the right choice? Will this experience truly be as great as they say it is?

I think the reason why beginnings are so difficult is that we are either too lazy to start or too scared to fail. I try not to give up when the going gets tough. Whenever I am in a difficult situation, I always tell myself this:

“Beginning something is only half the battle. Only when you see the bright side is when you win the game of life.”

During my 13-hour flight from Chicago, I was not only feeling anxiety. I was also excited and I had butterflies in my stomach. My dreams of traveling and studying in China were finally coming true. I was thinking about seeing the Forbidden City and visiting the Great Wall. I imagined myself eating dumplings at a cute café on campus with my news friends and I tried to picture myself riding camels in the middle of the desert, sweating under the burning sun.

I realized that the questions I asked myself were only breaking me down, preventing me from discovering my full potential. My heart was testing me and I was overthinking the cons. But I was on the same emotional rollercoaster like everyone else. I realized that this buildup of emotions and anxiety was all normal.

Regardless of all the good things, I can’t help but feel alone and lost like everyone else. At the end of the day, I have myself and my thoughts. I think being lost is a good thing because I am given the opportunity to find myself (very cliché but totally relevant and very true). I put my heart at ease and thought about how my life will be changing for the better. One of my goals through studying abroad is to learn new things about the world and myself. I can’t accomplish my goals if I am afraid of the journey that is required to achieve them. When I entered Loyola, I was determined to do a semester abroad in Beijing my sophomore year and here I am. I wanted to take my own unique route and decided to take on the challenge.

In summary, don’t let your fears in the beginning take control of you. If you get scared away too early in the game, you will miss out on what probably will be the greatest adventure of your life. Just go with the flow and everything will be alright.

I hope you all find the courage to take on this challenge one day like I did. Be the person who says they want to travel and actually do it. This is only the beginning and I am so excited to share with you my experiences! Stay tuned for my adventures in detail real soon!