Traveling with Anxiety

Keshia Driscoll
Chinese Language and Culture in Beijing, China
Major: Anthropology

I’ve always had anxiety so when my counselor suggested I look into a study abroad program I immediately put that thought out of my mind. However the thought of seeing China and living in another country kept popping up in my mind. I decided to talk to the program director about it one day and after leaving Dr. Wang’s office I was determined to study abroad in China. I decided then and there that my anxiety will not rule my life. I filled out all the applications, applied for financial assistance and just waited to see how everything ended up. After getting approved my anxiety immediately kicked in. I thought to myself that this was crazy and there is now way I could actually do this, but I kept going and told my family. My husband and kids were very supportive of me and have been assuring me that I will be fine. They tell me that they are very proud of me for overcoming fear and anxiety so I can do what I want in my life.

In exactly one week I will be in China and I can tell you that my anxiety is through the roof. I have been very nervous to take this big trip away from my family, friends and everything I know is safe. However, I am dealing with this anxiety in a few different ways. Through the study abroad programs meetings and information sessions I have met the other people traveling with me to China. Three of us arranged our flights so we can be on the same flight together. This is a huge relief to me as the actual act of flying is a huge stress for me. Also after going to the pre-departure meeting at WMU, we were recommended to meet with a physician.  I made an appointment with my doctor right away. She is from India and actually told me she gets travel anxiety sometimes too. She prescribed me some Xanax for any anxiety I have and also gave me great information about foods to stay away from and how to get over my jet lag. She also gave me some medicine just in case I get “traveler’s diarrhea.”  I hope I don’t have to use that medication but it feels really nice knowing I have it.

I’m now packing my things and preparing for the trip. I’ve stayed in touch with the other two people traveling with me on facebook and we are constantly sending messages to each other about what we are packing and what we are excited about. We laugh and talk about all the things we are going to see and I feel like I’ve already got friends in them. My anxiety switches from nervous to happy and excited but in the end, I am just so thankful that I’ve been given this opportunity and that I’ve been strong enough to make it happen.

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