Studying abroad in college led to one of the best decisions I have ever made.
If this is something you are thinking about too, I highly encourage it. I wanted to take a little time to talk with you about why studying abroad is so important to your education and your development. Whether you are going for a week trip to Italy, a month long in South Africa, or a semester in the UK you will have a great adventure. The classes are exciting, the food and the people are amazing, and the sights are unforgettable.
A day doesn’t go by without me thinking about my experiences and how they have helped me grow as a person. My month long trip to Greece taught me more about traveling than any of my other trips beforehand. I experienced what it was like to live in a country rather than be a tourist. Yes we had free time to experience the tourist spots in Athens and on the Island of Crete, but we also got to get to know the local spots near our hotels and experience washing our laundry in bath tubs.
I developed a deeper understanding of another culture.
In Greece we learned about their history in class everyday and got to experience living and emerging ourselves in their culture. Everyone has a perceived notion of what another country could be like, by studying abroad you get to broaden your perspective by being there firsthand. Your perception changes because you get a deeper understanding of the world.
Traveling with other people is very intense.
The friendships you make on your trip are unforgettable. You will always have those shared experiences to remember together even if you grow apart after the trip ends. You can share in the memory of that time you ate margarita pizza from down the street everyday in Athens because you were tired of gyros or encouraged each other when you just didn’t want to climb that 27th mountain to see one more ancient ruin or castle. Those friendships will get you through the real-life moments of your study-abroad trip and are an amazing part of the adventure.
Stepping out of your comfort zone is scary.
I remember getting out of the airport and not seeing a single work of english. For me that is exciting, but for others that can seem daunting. I don’t speak Greek, the few words I still remember are skylaki (puppy), efharisto (thank you), and kalimera (good morning). It’s been a bit since I studied abroad but I still remember feeling nervous about not being able to communicate with anyone for a month. Yes, most countries speak English, but we were traveling to small, I mean small towns on our greek odyssey and not every person we met spoke English. Ask your trip leader or your professors for some basic words and how to pronounce them. This will help you feel more at home. Stepping out of your comfort zone will empower you as a person! When your comfort zone is pushed, you discover so much more about yourself and how you are capable of so much more than you would have originally thought. That power that you feel will not fade when you get home. Use it, continue growing.
I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t mention the best part about studying abroad… you get to travel! There is nothing like seeing a country you have never been too for the first time. Everything is new, the simple things like walking down a street are more exciting, the coffee is soooo much better (trust me), and the food is so much better than what you can get in the states.
If you are lucky enough to have the opportunity, go for it! It can seem daunting planning for a large trip, leaving your friends and family behind, and traveling to a place you are not familiar with, but the benefits exceed the negatives, I promise you! Explore the world every chance you get!
Have you studied abroad? If so, where?