Senior year struggles while abroad


Evan in front of Hoppity House in Scotland Photo credit: Evan Chambless & Kara Killinger

I’ve previously touched on my last-minute decision to study abroad as a senior, but I didn’t expect that choice to come with as many challenges as I’ve encountered. Just past the halfway mark of my time overseas, I’ve formed a list of a few things that will hopefully properly inform to-be abroad seniors.

1. You will feel left out. Senior year is supposed to be a last hurrah of sorts, but your friends will be having approximately half of those hurrahs without you. If you’re in an organization that meets regularly, those meetings will keep on happening, regardless of your attendance. You’ll be bummed out for sure, but keep in mind that your friends are probably missing you and jealous of your unique adventures abroad.

2. Registration is difficult enough to navigate when you’re on campus and have peers and professors to confer with, but imagine trying to confirm your class schedule with your advisor remotely, including making sure that you’ll graduate on time and that your credits from your abroad university will transfer — because you need them to graduate! All extremely stressful! I recommend taking a look at the bulletin of classes and schedule as soon as they become available. Have backups. And, most importantly, make sure to adjust your registration time to your current time zone. If needed — like if you’ll be in the middle of an exam or on a plane — talk to friends you trust dearly and beg them to login to TigerPaws with your username at the given time and register you for those precious last few classes that you need in order to graduate (don’t forget to apply for graduation too!).

3. As so-called adulthood approaches for me and my peers, it’s dawned on me that most post-graduation job and grad school applications have deadlines starting in the fall. Balancing weekend trips to Paris and Stockholm in addition to balancing current classes has made it hard to find time to write even a single coherent cover letter. Try to think ahead, block out at least one weekend from traveling and find a cozy coffee shop to plant yourself in until you’ve gotten a good head start on those applications.

4. One thing that’s been an increasing source of stress has been finding housing for my last semester at Trinity. Most seniors find off-campus places to live during the spring semester of their junior year. I’ve been asking around, looking at long-term Airbnb rentals and posting on all applicable Facebook pages, hoping that someone is graduating early or taking a semester off. Unless you find a place and sublet the semester you’re abroad, which is too much commitment for me, you may be stuck living on campus, — which, frankly, is my very last choice. Side note: If you couldn’t tell, this is a cry for help. Please email me ([email protected]) if you’ve got a lead on a place near campus!

All things considered, even if I’d known all of these things before making my last-minute decision to go abroad, I would never turn down the opportunity. This was such a great way to get to know myself more intimately, and planning ahead would’ve reduced a lot of my current worries. Don’t let this list discourage you; instead, use it to inform yourself and not make the mistakes I have.