Last summer, I had the opportunity to study abroad in the magical city of Prague. I met amazing people and gained some of my best friends exploring those cobblestone streets. While I can look back now and smile at the adventures I had, I can't ignore the fact that in the weeks before I left, I was terrified fly overseas and live in a foreign city. No matter how many times my friends and family told me I would love it and it would be OK, I was still completely freaked out about living abroad. It wasn't long before I realized I should battle the fear with a method that has worked for every other obstacle in my life: reading.
I picked up some of my favorite novels and went out to the bookstore to get some more YA fiction that focused on travel. The books didn't solve every fear I had — only the act of jumping on a plane and not turning back solved those problems — but the books did help me embrace the journey ahead with confidence.
If you're getting ready to study abroad for a semester, or you're just about to travel to a foreign place for the first time, you might be feeling similar levels of anxiety. If that's the case, and you're like me where books are the perfect source of medicine, get ready to make some room in your suitcase for a some fantastic reads. Sure, guidebooks are great — but these seven YA novels will ease those traveling fears and help you focus on your excitement instead.
1. Anna and the French Kiss, by Stephanie Perkins
This is the staple of study abroad books in the YA category. Anna and the French Kiss will distract you from any study abroad fears with charming Parisian boys, new friendships, and the city of lights captured in words.
2. A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeleine L'Engle
When I was in Prague, I brought this story with me wherever I went. Sure, traveling through space and time is a bit more extreme than crossing the seas, but that same feeling of the unknown being right around the corner is perfectly articulated in A Wrinkle in Time.
3. Just One Day, by Gayle Forman
In just 24 hours, Allison decides to do something totally out of her character and follows a free-spirited boy to Paris. This book will get you excited for all the new people you're bound to meet abroad. It'll also remind you to be brave and step out of your comfort zone. I'm not saying you should say yes to any boy who invites you to Paris, but taking risks and trying new things is a big part of living in a foreign country.
4. 13 Little Blue Envelopes, by Maureen Johnson
This is a fun, quick read for the plane or train ride. Ginny's eccentric aunt who just passed away sends her 13 envelopes, the first of which includes $1,000 dollars in cash and instructions to buy a plane ticket to Europe. The rest of the envelopes can't be opened until each task within them is completed. While Ginny travels, she learns about herself, her aunt, and the world around her. It's a perfect book for the perfect trip.
5. Are We There Yet?, by David Levithan
If you're already missing your siblings before you leave, this is the book for you. David Levithan captures the relationship of two very different brothers who are forced to spend time together in Italy to mend their broken relationship. Instead of focusing on how much travel changes these boys, it's all about the change that takes place in their hearts and minds. If there's one important lesson to take away from studying abroad and traveling, it's that the biggest changes can take place within you, not the setting around you.
6. The Geography of You and Me, by Jennifer E. Smith
This story tells the tale of a boy and girl who meet in Manhattan — only to then move in opposite sides of the world. If you're about to be in a long distance relationship with this trip, trust me on this and read The Geography of You and Me. I was in a long distance relationship for nearly five years, and for nine of those months it was tested even more while one of us studied abroad in Poland and the other stayed home. It's harder than anyone can tell you, but it will make you and your relationship stronger.
7. Royally Lost, by Angie Stanton
A European adventure with the family. Sound fun? Well, not for Becca. But when she meets another wandering boy who just so happens to be a prince, things become exciting pretty quickly. Royally Lost captures the freedom of exploring new countries on your own (with some light romance on the side, of course). The likelihood of your meeting a prince while studying abroad is pretty rare, but hey, who's to say it won't happen?
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