by Sarah Hurliman

I remember my first time going overseas. I was a sophomore in college, and I was terrified. People told me stories about getting lost in a country where they didn’t speak the language and warned me not to drink the water. I was excited to see a new place and travel internationally, but that didn’t completely erase my fear.

That first trip was a college class, with 40 other students, to Greece and Italy. Compared to some people’s solo adventures to Peru or Uganda, mine looked like a piece of cake. But for me, it was a big deal. I’ve learned an important thing since then: Fear is relative and unique to each person. What scares me may not scare you. I am comfortable watching a spider crawl up the wall, while others scream and call for help. But I still get nervous about traveling internationally. However, six things help me to calm my anxiety and enjoy the new experiences.

1. Go with others.

You won’t be alone on your Global Urban Trek! The staff and other students are experiencing the new culture right alongside you. Some of them are familiar with the culture - they can help you out! And even if it seems like everyone else is comfortable and calm, I guarantee that someone else is nervous too. Be honest with your team and you will find them.

2. Go prepared.

It may ease your fear if you have learned about the place where you are going, the cultural customs, or even what you can take through security at the airport. Talk to people who have gone before and to your director. Read all the material the director gives you about your trip. Even read some Wikipedia articles on the country’s history and a few references that might help you connect with people in-country.

3. Go supported.

Arrange for a prayer partner at home who will commit to pray for you regularly during the trip.

4. Go without expectations.

There is such a thing as being too prepared - you may have very specific expectations, which throw you off when you encounter something different. Have an open mind, and instead be expectant of what God will do - give the Creator room to dismantle your expectations.

5. Go ready to learn.

Beyond quieting your expectations, open your ears and heart to listen and learn. The people and culture you will encounter have a lot to teach you, if you are open to experiencing it. Learn from local Christians or other college students. Your world will become bigger.

6. Go ready for adventure.

No matter how scared you might be about going on a Global Urban Trek, God’s strength and comfort will go with you. Release your fears to him, and dive into what he has in store!