Through a series of unexpected events, I recently came to realize these might be the last months I spend in Iran, at least for a few years. I’ve applied for graduate studies in the United States and if all proceeds as planned, I’ll be there by midsummer. I’ve studied in two of Iran’s best universities, so the notion of studying abroad was never too far-fetched. I had always remained somewhat distant and objective in regard to the matter, despite saying goodbye to many friends and classmates over the years, but this time it’s different. This time I’m the one who’s going to leave and live in another country and quite frankly, I’m a bit scared.

I don’t equate fear with weakness. On the contrary, I think it indicates a sharp mind that can grasp the magnitude of a situation and its possible outcomes before diving in. Yielding to fear, however, is a different story. I strongly believe one can only avoid his fears temporarily before they catch up. I have no intention of being caught off-guard, so here’s to manning up and dealing with these pesky thoughts while I have the upper hand.

What is it about studying abroad that frightens me? Well, there’s no short answer but here are some to give you an idea: dedicating myself to conforming to American education standards; immigrating to a new country and adapting to its culture; leaving behind all I’ve worked for so far and losing sight of my life goals in the process; experiencing a whole new level of independence alone; the possibility of not getting a chance to say goodbye to my parents or others that I love; and so on. I know many before me have gone through such difficulties and prevailed. Nevertheless, these are valid concerns and there’s always a possibility they might not turn out as I hope.

Fortunately, I’m optimistic at heart and capable of coming up with pros to counteract these cons. Top-notch education in a more efficient and effective system; knowledge and skills that could serve me well in the future; better living conditions in a more advanced country; the personal development that results from managing one’s life independently; the chance to see more of the wonders of the world; and etc. I know this leap of faith will open up a plethora of options for me, even if they aren’t crystal clear yet, and make possible the achievement of an entirely different level of personal, educational and financial growth.

Where do I stand after all is said and done? I appreciate the opportunity I have, one that many dream of as my father constantly points out. I view this as a chance to invest in myself and my future and I don’t think anyone can go wrong down that path. I know I can deal with each of these concerns with the right worldview and mindset when the time arises. However my control on the future is limited to the current moment and what I choose to do with my life now. This is my chance and I’ll be damned if I miss out just because fear stopped me from trying.