FOMO – or the ‘fear of missing out’ – is a sensation that is likely to grip everyone at some stage in their life. For some people it is an incessant feeling of wanting to always be where the action is, whilst for others it is merely an occasional thought of really wanting to do something out of fear that they will miss a certain experience.

From my perspective going on exchange can sometimes heighten this feeling of ‘FOMO’. When you only have a very short time in a country there is often a sense of urgency in making sure you make the most out of your time abroad. Whether that is traveling to as many places as possible, uncovering all the hidden locations in your host city, or hanging out with a new group of friends, it can sometimes be hard to balance it all without feeling like you are missing out on one thing or another.

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I reflected on this a few weeks ago when upon returning from a long weekend away from Oslo to travel around Norway I seemed to be out every night that week catching up and partying with friends. I seemed to be cramming too much into my weeks and ultimately feeling completely run down and incredibly behind in my studies. Whilst it is nice to feel like you always have something on, I’m certainly one to also enjoy time to myself.

I came to realise that as much as I wanted to make the most out of my time abroad, I shouldn’t be placing my health and studies in complete jeopardy as a result of this. I think it is incredibly important to reflect on exactly what it is that you want out of your exchange experience and contemplate ways that you can realistically balance all your goals and wishes. It is unrealistic to expect that every moment abroad you will have something organised to do – we are here to do a little study after all and just ‘live’ in another country.

So, after a few weeks of completely neglecting my studies and barely spending a day at home, I reassessed what I was trying to get out of my exchange. Now, I’ll still sometimes feel a sense of ‘FOMO’ if I head away for a weekend or miss out on some event or catch up due to other plans, but I’ll no longer let it drive me to feeling like I need to compensate with even more plans. So far I’m really happy and satisfied with the range of things I’m able to do and achieve on exchange and I’m hoping that I will be able to maintain this incredibly rewarding balance until the end of my time abroad.

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