Study abroad is a popular program that takes in place in both undergraduate and graduate universities, and even in some high schools. The purpose of the program is to expose people to a different way of learning, to engage students in a unique way, and to open eyes to the various opportunities located around the world. Each study abroad program is different from school to school – but they have the same end goal.
I had the opportunity to study abroad three different times, once in high school and twice with my university. The first time, I was 16 years old, and several students from English class went to London, England. We got to visit Stonehenge, the London Eye [which to date is still the only Ferris wheel I’ve ever been on], the Shakespeare Globe Theatre, and so much more! I was young then, and looking back, I know I didn’t fully appreciate the opportunity I had before me. Despite that though, I fell in love with learning about different cultures and travelling around the world.
Flash forward to the summer after my junior year. The psychology department had a study abroad program that visited France, Germany, and Austria, and I knew I had to be a part of that. To this day, I am so happy I made the decision to go! We stopped by many major psychological landmarks, and visited several universities, and I was introduced to my favorite city – Paris.
Two years later, even though I had already graduated, I was invited to attend the Alumni and Friends Study Abroad program. Of course I accepted! We visited the same countries of France, Germany, and Austria, but went to several different cities. I had a blast and continued learning so much!
Obviously, I’m an advocate for study abroad programs! I learned so much throughout my times participating in them, and I get so excited when I hear people deciding to try one out. I’m sharing my top three reasons why you should consider studying abroad, in case you’re on the fence.
1. you get to travel:
I’ll start off with a pretty obvious reason – you get to travel! If you participate in study abroad, you have the opportunity to go to amazing places, and do amazing things. You get to view parts of the world that you might not necessarily have the chance to do otherwise. And if you’re anything like me, it will spark such curiosity and interest, you’ll fall head over heels in love with the entire aspect of travelling.
2. you get to meet cool people:
Whether they’re people that are part of your study abroad program, or people you meet while you’re abroad, you do have the chance to meet some pretty interesting people. You get to learn from them, and you get to gain new perspectives. Even if you find someone from the same general area as you, once you get out of your comfort zone, your perspective tends to change. I have met some pretty cool people who I still keep in touch with today, all because we happened to be part of the same study abroad program. And I also connected with my professors on a personal level. We joked, and laughed, and had a great time exploring cities together. I still keep in contact with them to this day!
3. You get to learn about different cultures:
Learning about a city and their culture from a textbook in a classroom differs greatly compared to learning about a city and their culture, while in the city. Learning of a culture involves hearing the language, tasting the food, watching the interaction between people to people. You can’t get that in a classroom that miles or oceans away from the place you’re learning about. It’s truly an amazing opportunity to experience everything first-hand, and you get a better understanding! And I personally think, it opens people’s hearts and minds to realize no matter how far away you go from home, we’re not all that different after all!
As you can see, I’m all for studying abroad. I know situations may prevent people from partaking in that experience, and I recognize I’m beyond blessed that I was able to do study abroad several times. Don’t be discouraged if the financial aspect is the part that’s worrying you! Connect with the study abroad office and see if there are any scholarships available. You can also think about asking for money for birthdays and holidays to set aside for the trip. Getting a part time job is also a consideration you can think about. For me, every penny was worth it. I gained way much more than I spent, and ultimately, my love for travel blossomed through these trips!
What about you? Have you been on a study abroad trip before? How was it? If you haven’t been, would you consider going?