A travel-hungry student’s guide to developing a strong mindset before going abroad (1/3)

It’s Student Volunteering Week at King’s College London and KCLSU – and we have the pleasure of featuring a guest blogger and KCL Alumna, Shari Mitchell write about an exciting topic in her first of 3 blogposts in the KCL Transformational Travel Series.

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to work, study or volunteer abroad as a student but you doubt it can happen for you? Have you daydreamed about packing your bags for three months, a year, or more, to embark upon a transformational travel experience that would change your outlook on life forever…but something is holding you back from making the leap?

Then this post is for you.

Working, volunteering or studying overseas are incredibly valuable experiences, but so many students are afraid to accept these opportunities, and instead prefer to stay at home.

But I’m here to tell you that this does not have to be you. All you have to do is shift your mindset around going overseas in 3 ways – assess your fears, discover why you think about transformational travel in the first place, and develop confidence in your ability to make it happen.

Let’s begin.

Image of person leaning against railing
Photo by Ümit Bulut on Unsplash

1. Assess Your Fears around Travelling Abroad

So you’ve got this nudge to travel abroad for an epic overseas experience. Maybe you want to do a gap year, work abroad, volunteer abroad, or complete a study abroad program for a few months. You begin to Google destinations, programs, opportunities, travel deals, and you visit the KCL Careers office…but as you keep searching, something shifts. Your energy fades, doubt sets in, bad case scenarios enter your mind, and something ends up holding you back from taking the leap. That something is called ‘Fear’!

So before you begin to take the first steps toward an awesome travel experience, you need to get your mind right by first addressing your fears about going away. So what fears or concerns do you have when it comes to travelling abroad as a student for an extended period of time?

Here are some fears that many students face when they decide to go abroad for more than a 2-week vacation with family or friends:

  • Getting out of their comfort zone
  • Lack of safety, and what might happen whilst they’re away
  • The language barrier/culture shock
  • Having a bad experience like being robbed, food poisoning, injury, getting lost or falling ill
  • Expenses – not being able to afford it / not having enough money / running out of money
  • Loneliness and homesickness – being away from family and friends
  • Not sure if it’s worth it or will make a big difference in life as the costs seem to outweigh the benefits
  • FOMO – fear of missing out when they leave home

Instead, list your worries, fears, concerns and worst-case scenarios. Then brainstorm solutions and find programs, services, and opportunities that mitigate your fears as best as possible.

Discovering more about your options will help you focus your mind and take action. If you are unsure about how global experiences during your studies at King’s can be arranged, we can help you. Come chat to one of our Careers Consultants via a one-to-one appointment and discover what options you have out there!



Image of person standing on a cliff
Photo by Joshua Earle on Unsplash

2. Uncover the Driving Factor That Feeds Your Wanderlust

Secondly, an important activity you must do to get yourself mentally ready for a transformational travel experience is to figure out why you wish to go in the first place.

Are you just looking for a glorified vacation away from your parents where you have fun meeting new people and making friends? I hope not! I hope that the reason you’re interested in going abroad is much deeper than that.

What are your top travel abroad reasons?

Here are a few to get you started:

  • You want to test your ability to live away from home
  • Improving your career or grad school prospects and opportunities with international experience and education
  • Independence, self-reliance and personal growth away from your parents and family aka becoming an adult
  • Embracing a once in a lifetime opportunity before you get into a job, career and family life
  • Expanding your worldview and gaining a global mindset
  • Flexibility and learning to adapt to diverse situations
  • Self-discovery
  • Facing unique challenges that make you grow
  • Infinite opportunities to network
  • Forming new (potentially lifelong) friendships

So what is your why?

Image of foot kicking the air
Photo by João Jesus from Pexels

3. Gain Travel Confidence

Lastly, just saying “I want to travel” isn’t enough to lead you into a particular direction so how can you gain any confidence in where you’re headed?

Instead, equipped with your ‘Why’ from above, you need to take real steps so that you can see your travels develop right before you, rather than having no clue how to proceed.

Taking real steps leads to increased confidence.

You can develop yours by starting off with these:

  • Get clear on exactly what you want (this includes type of travel experience, when, where, and duration)
  • Focus on your strengths (make a list of all the things you know you are good at and will come easy to you when you move)
  • Complete thorough research and arm yourself with the most information (the more you know about where you’re going, the more confident you’ll feel)
  • Get a local contact (either through Facebook groups, KCL or the program – find someone you can reach out to when you are there)
  • Find your cheerleader (whenever you’re feeling nervous, anxious, or scared, talk to someone who can help and is happy about your desire to travel abroad. Stay away from the negative and lukewarm people in your life)

These are all great steps you can take to begin boosting your confidence to travel overseas for dream work, study or volunteering experiences.

Whether it is work, study or volunteering, global experiences are fantastic for developing your employability! You learn so much about yourself while widening your knowledge, attributes, skills and experiences. We list many global work opportunities on King’s CareerConnect. Also, did you know that you can reflect on your global experiences with King’s Careers & Employability and enroll to achieve a King’s Experience Award? Read more about our awards modules via KEATS.


Overall, know that you are just as capable as any other student so do not let your fears keep you back.

Keep these 3 tips top of mind whenever doubt begins to set in, and never forget that you learn the most in uncomfortable, unfamiliar situations.

Whether you want to work, study, or volunteer abroad, it will be an experience unlike any other in your life. I speak from experience.


Written by Shari Mitchell for King’s Careers & Employability