Is Study Abroad living up to all your expectations? You daydreamed for months before you ever got on the plane, envisioning your living arrangements, your daily life, your weekend excursions. As Dan Gilbert says in this fascinating TED Talk, The surprising science of happiness, “It turns out the pre-frontal cortex does lots of things, but one of the most important things it does is an experience simulator.” Our brains are truly amazing!
The problem is that reality is usually not what we had expected. Gilbert calls this an “impact bias.” Study Abroad may be far exceeding your expectations in some ways, but falling short in others. Many students aren’t prepared for the crappy feelings they might experience, be it culture shock or any other stressful challenge they’ve encountered. We tend to blow things out of proportion in our minds, both the good and the bad. This can often leave us feeling stressed out and disappointed.
In my Study Abroad tip of the week I say that happiness doesn’t exist in any specific place and that you can learn to be happy wherever you are. Gilbert affirms this by showing how “We synthesize happiness, but we think happiness is a thing to be found.”
Listen to the talk to find out how to synthesize your own happiness. If Study Abroad isn’t living up to your expectations make some changes. You’re in the driver’s seat of your life. Use your time on Study Abroad to practice cultivating more happiness in your world!
If you need help in how to do this check out these 5 Ways Study Abroad Can Make You Happier