Overcoming Inhibitions to Make a Splash in Wales


Pushing yourself past your boundaries can lead to great experiences (courtesy of Jamison Rodgers/The Fordham Ram)

One discussion that students engaged in during orientation week was how much of yourself to change during the study abroad experience. Most advice offered by the London Centre staff was to not do a complete 180 on yourself. The experience of studying abroad was already so different from our routines that they warned trying to change yourself completely might end up backfiring. From these words of warning it sounds as if some in the past took the phrase “new city, new me” a little too seriously. These discussions were brought back to front of mind after my adventure weekend in Wales at the beginning of October. 

In yet another example of the spontaneity of travel, I was not originally planning on going to Wales. I did not know anyone also going on the trip, and I would not use the word “adventurous” to describe myself. But a few weeks before, I kept hearing people in the program talking about going and, in the end, it was the power force of FOMO that made me decide to go. I pulled the trigger and booked the trip feeling excited and nervous at the same time. As the semester progressed and I met more people, I felt reassured in my choice to push myself out of my comfort zone and go on a weekend adventure. 

When it came time to pick my adventurous activities, I chose two that I knew would be a success: hiking and sea kayaking. I had done both of these before and knew what to expect going in. The third activity I picked was the wild card: coasteering. 

For those unfamiliar, which included myself right up until I waded into the Atlantic Ocean in my wetsuit, coasteering is a combination of swimming, climbing and jumping. You swim along the coast and through caves getting to experience the coastline in an entirely new way. Climbing, or traversing as the guides referred to it, can only be described as clinging to a scraggly rock wall and shimming your body across it. Then came time for the most anticipated part: jumping. We climbed to different places along the cliffs and lept, free falling, into the Atlantic below. It was exhilarating, terrifying and completely out of character for me. 

I usually stay firmly within my comfort zone, stubbornly so at some points. But for some reason, I had the confidence to push myself to have this new experience. Due to the fleeting nature of the program, studying abroad has given me the confidence to push myself out of my normal routine. I know I might not be back in Wales again on an adventure weekend, and when else will I be able to coasteer?

While I agree that people should not tear down and rebuild their personalities because they are in a new city, I do think the experience allows people to try new things in the security of the program being temporary. What I mean by this is, I know I have a short window of time when I can participate in some of these experiences. I know when I go back to New York in the spring I will not have the opportunity to go coasteering in the city. I have this little bubble to try as much as I can that I normally would not do. That mentality is what gives me the confidence to go for it. 

This mindset has given me the confidence to push myself outside of my comfort zone while staying true to myself. Some of these new experiences include: staying in a hostel for the first time, booking solo travel for later this semester and expanding my palate to try new foods in each city I have traveled to. All of these experiences may not change me completely, but they do make me more comfortable saying yes to experiences I would have turned down in the past.  

Is study abroad the time to completely reinvent the wheel and become a whole new person? Probably not. There is a lot to adjust to while studying abroad that the added layer of new city, new you, might not be necessary. But is study abroad a good time to push yourself outside of your comfort zone while remaining true to yourself? Absolutely.