Featured writer: Kelsey Mirehouse (Kelsey’s Happiness)
Being on my second study abroad experience, I have learned (and continue to learn) the benefits of studying abroad. I hope to share those with you, so here are my reasons why studying abroad should be mandatory for college students.
Flying across the world to a country that may or may not speak your native language, seeing places you’ve never been, trusting people you’ve never met, taking classes from people with weird accents and having to do all of this alone is quite intimidating! You’ll no longer get to easily go home or meet up with your friends if something is going wrong. You’ll get so frustrated with how people do things different than home that you’ll find yourself counting down the minutes until your departure flight.
But then one day, it all goes away. Your fears, your precautions and your prejudice, vanish. All of a sudden you’re actually enjoying yourself. You’ve fully unpacked your bags, you’ve made some friends and maybe even gone out once or twice with the country’s choice beverage. It all starts falling into place and you can’t even think of why you ever wanted to leave!
This is the greatest joy of studying abroad, getting over your initial terrifying culture shock and finally immersing yourself into the culture. There is so much to be learned about other cultures and once you get yourself in a mental position to do so, the personal growth and confidence building opportunities are endless.
You won’t see your family/friends for at least a few weeks, maybe even months…
It’s true, you won’t see your best friend, boyfriend/girlfriend or family for the time you’re gone, unless of course you’re lucky enough for them to visit! The time differences will be extremely frustrating at times, phone calls and texts sent home can cost a fortune and sometimes the internet is just not on your side when you really want to Skype. You’ll feel, at times, that you’re out of the loop because you see Facebook updates about the home football game or tweets about the latest movie that’s out and all you’ll want to do is be home so you don’t get behind on the gossip.
The only thing worse then not seeing your friends and family from home for awhile, is not knowing when you’ll get to see the new friends you made again. The friends you make while studying abroad will be your absolute new best friends and chances are, they aren’t going to live within walking distance from you or they may not even live in the same country! You’ll find yourself so happy to see the familiar faces at home but missing the people who were there with you when you were at one of the most vulnerable places you’ll be in your life. These bonds are irreplaceable.
You’ll spend more money than you would at home…
You could save up for years and still feel as though you don’t have enough money, and because you don’t have a job to get an income, it’s a scary thing to watch your bank account dwindle.
So what are you spending your money on besides food?
Yeah sure, it may cost 400 dollars to skydive, but when are you ever going to get the chance to be up in a plane, strapped to total stranger, with your best friends and be able to see both islands of New Zealand at the same time? Or maybe the Great Barrier Reef? Or how about that 200 dollar bungee jump? You’ll be able to show all your friends and family back home the video of you hurling yourself off of a platform out over a river. Maybe the nights out with your friends where you caved and bought a 15 dollar drink just because you could.
These experiences are worth every penny and you will never regret spending money on these memories that you will be able to treasure forever.
You’ll change, and people will notice…
But in a good way. You’ll be more open minded, more tolerable to how people do things, more accepting of other cultures and more in love with travelling than ever before. You’ll be a much more well rounded person that you can confidently bring back to your home, wherever it may be.
You will now be able to put your study abroad time on your resume and proudly say that you were courageous enough to experience another culture and that you’ve learned from it.
These days there is virtually no reason not to study abroad. The resources that are available to students are endless and most study abroad programs will try and cater to your needs as a student and make sure you stay on the right educational track while still having a blast. Studying abroad is something in college that is literally open to any student, male or female, freshman or super senior, athlete or non-athlete, business major, engineers or anything in between, there are so many options that can fit anyone who has the courage to trade time at home for an unforgettable experience abroad.
I’m not here to tell you that studying abroad isn’t a scary thing to do, because sometimes it’s absolutely frightening, you spend all your money, you’re away from your family and your personality can change, but this is one of very few things college students can do that builds confidence, teaches you that experiences are priceless, helps you gain friends from all over the globe and turns you into someone that is much more knowledgeable about the world around you.
For young people, studying abroad in college is the perfect time to travel the world and educate yourself where no classroom can come close.
Fellow study abroad alumni or those currently on study abroad right now, what reasons would you tell people to study abroad for? Did you experience these as well? Comment below!
I can relate to a lot of this! I found myself in this situation 5 years ago and can still somewhat relate as I met my Kiwi husband not long after arriving in New Zealand. Studying abroad was definitely a life changing experience for me :).
As a college student about to embark on my four study abroad experience, I fully endorse study abroad as something everyone should do once (or twice, or three times…). It is an amazing opportunity to start over, and re-learn the things you thought you knew about yourself and the world around you. Every time I get on a plane for the semester, I know that a million opportunities are waiting for me the moment I land. It’s an amazing feeling I wish more people experienced.