Thanksgiving has always been one of my favorite times of the year. Seeing family, eating mountains of delicious food- all the speciality wines and hard liquors get broken out of the typically locked adult cabinets. Wait until you get to the point where everyone in your family is old enough to abandon the football broadcast for a lively game of Cards Against Humanity instead of the traditional poker. It’s hilariously traumatic.
Anyway, this year, my family was asking me about my time that I spend studying abroad in England. I was happily chatting away when in my haste, I sputtered that part of me was anxious about the FOMO when it came to my participation in my sorority. Their blank stares met mine as I realized that most people don’t speak sorority girl. Time to explain how I dealt with my fear of missing out in a new social life to my bewildered family.
I studied aboard the spring semester of my junior year, just one semester after joining my sorority, Phi Sigma Sigma at Temple University. Temple has a very extensive international network. Many sisters in my chapter study abroad each semester, including the summer, and I know we’ve all gone through this insane fear. Before I even went out for recruitment, I made sure that my intention to study abroad the next semester wouldn’t affect my membership. Still, I was nervous. This new intense social life was just beginning and I knew that I would be missing out on a lot when I went away. My chapter at the time was right around 150 girls. How could I, after just joining, make sure that I still had a presence at my chapter back home? I was about to disappear for six months, and then it would be summer.
Here’s the thing. It doesn’t matter whether you have a chapter of 25 girls or 300 girls – those girls will be missing you just as much as you are missing them. My twin sent me a care package filled with girl scout cookies and swag. I met up with a sister who was studying abroad in Spain when I traveled to Barcelona. I would get posts on my Facebook wall to remind me that I was loved and missed. Best of all, my social media ego exploded from the WCWs thrown at me and was thrilled to throw them right back.
The best way to deal with FOMO, because there is no stopping it (despite all the denial and the wine), is to accept that it’s happening. The themed socials, the fundraisers, recruitment, Greek Week and that newly single gorgeous fraternity boy will all pass you by during the time that you are away. You’ll miss out on the pictures, the drunk takeout and Sunday brunch. You can keep up with the posts in your private groups on social media all you want.
But before we nestle into bed for a Netflix binge with a pint of ice cream that will surely make the scary FOMO go away, take a deep breath, and remember something very, very important.
Studying abroad is a once in a lifetime opportunity. While the semester back home is continuing on without you, you’re in a different country sipping wine in a vineyard in Italy, or snagging a handsome French man to kiss in front of the Eiffel Tower, and you should be focusing all of your energy absorbing as much of the amazing world that we live in. I realized that I should be appreciating the windmills in Holland instead of hiding back in my flat at my University watching my chapters Greek Sing performance from Greek Week over and over again.
The best part of studying abroad is how busy you will get. You should make efforts to maximize your time while you’re away because you never know the next time you’ll be back. You will be distracted by all the culture, the parties, the people and the adventures that you will have and slowly, your FOMO will be the last thing on your mind.
Don’t let the FOMO stop you from taking the risk and studying abroad. It is not pleasant, but your chapter isn’t going to forget about you. They’re always going to be there to support you. In your worst case scenario, when you’re trapped in an airport after missing your plane, and your parent’s aren’t answering your calls, your sisters will. Take it from someone who made it through to the other side. You. Can. Do this!