Why You Should Go Abroad in College
As cliché as it sounds, your four years of college will go by faster than you can recite the Greek alphabet. These years will be filled with endless laughs, new experiences, and countless memories. College is about finding yourself. One of the best things you can do for yourself during this time is spend a semester studying abroad. Get out of your college town and step far outside of your comfort zone. A common misconception about going abroad is that it will cause you to miss out on the fun times happening on campus, but your abroad experience will greatly outweigh your FOMO.
I was on the fence when deciding whether or not to go abroad. I thought that I could never be successful in that situation because I was too timid and didn’t want to leave my comfort zone. By the end of my time abroad, I had had many ups and downs. However, I wouldn’t trade my living abroad and travel experiences for anything, especially another familiar and safe semester at school.
Become Cultured- Living in a country, as opposed to just visiting, allows you to connect further with people and dive into the local culture. The exposure to ideas and customs other than the ones you have been surrounded by your entire life opens your mind and expands your horizons. There are some things you can’t learn from sitting at a desk and reading a textbook. I learned more by traveling to a different city every weekend than I did in many classes on campus. You learn valuable life skills when on your own in a new country, such as navigating a foreign subway with maps in different languages, how to communicate with diverse people, and how to overcome the language barrier when trying to order at a restaurant.
Through your experience you will be able to better relate to others and understand global differences. Therefore, try living with a host family to truly grasp the native experience, or make friends with a local who can show you around. Living abroad will break down any previous stereotypes you may have had. Learning about a new culture while interacting and socializing with people fosters creativity and creates a newfound understanding of the world.
Learn a Second Language- Even if you have studied a language for many years, nothing will prepare you for the shock you will experience once you enter a foreign country. The natives will speak faster and with more of an accent than what you have most likely encountered. Learning a second language allows you to communicate with others you never would have had the chance to communicate with. Learning a new language is also beneficial for your brain health and a major plus on job or graduate school applications.
Education- Although we all know that the “studying” part of study abroad comes second, the education you receive is invaluable. Many universities may give students a “pass” on their GPA for a semester. You may have the opportunity to take a challenging class you normally would not have taken at school or even take a class in the country’s native language.
Personal Growth- Studying abroad will provide you with a sense of independence during your experience. Often, you may find yourself in a foreign city, without cell service and among no one who speaks English. You are forced to learn how to take care of yourself and be resourceful under pressure. You must also independently budget and manage your money over a period of time. Most likely, you will be unable to work while you are abroad and therefore it is imperative to budget your savings to not only last the entire semester but to also last through weekly travel plans and endless delicious, but sometimes expensive meals.
Travel- Flights and transportation are usually cheaper and more efficient in foreign countries. For example, if you are already living somewhere in Europe, it is much easier to jet off or hop a train to another European country for the weekend. You won’t have to deal with jet lag, different time zones, or long, expensive flights. Take advantage of these opportunities to travel to every city and country you possibly can!
Resume Booster- When applying to jobs, studying abroad sets you apart from the other candidates. Having the experience of living abroad showcases your diversity and ability to challenge yourself and branch outside of your personal comfort zone. Only about 12% percent of undergraduate students will study abroad during their time at college. With the rapidly changing global economy, employers are seeking candidates that are able to demonstrate the important skills learned while abroad to compete in a changing, global market.
Take your Greek letters on an adventure with you wherever you go in the world!