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What I’ve Learned from an International Education

by Alexa Nofsinger
Three AIFS Abroad students in London

Gustave Flaubert said, “Travel makes one modest. You see what a tiny place you occupy in the world.” I believe that exploring different landscapes outside of one’s own country is the ultimate discovery in life.

International education is so important.

On my first trip abroad, I visited Spain, France, and Switzerland. I learned that there was so much more to traveling than just sight-seeing. I learned how small my part was in this world when I took in the view atop the Swiss Alps. I learned how important community is as I was celebrating the World Cup win with hundreds of Barcelonans and yelling out, “Yo soy Español!” I learned to appreciate art and architecture in a new way as I walked through the Palace of Versailles and its breathtaking gardens.

After Europe, I also had the chance to visit the gorgeous country of Costa Rica. This beautiful jungle taught me the excitement of true adventure as I hiked knee deep in mud through a frog and monkey habited jungle, as I zip-lined high above the Cloud Forest, and as I canoed down rivers where camens lived.

I am now currently studying abroad in London. I have lived here for almost three months now and everyday I still find it fascinating that I can walk down the street and hear about five different languages. The culture here is so diverse with a versatility of cultures. Since there are so many different cultures here, I have observed that people interpret things differently. Being immersed in such a diverse environment has helped me to realize how many people there are in the world and right now we are connected together by one city.

AIFS Abroad student in Rome, Italy at the Colosseum

The concept of unity is diminishing among cultures, and societies are moving further apart. Not only do I want to travel the world for my own personal gain, but also to share my stories with others in hopes of changing their perspectives. I think it’s important for people to learn that we are all more alike than we are different, and the concept of unity needs to be resurfaced. This message emphasizes humanity working together towards a common good; a simple idea that we can make a difference. It is important that people are not culturally bound to their own country. Being exposed to different cultures allows one to discover their own new interests that are similar to the people around them.

International education provides students the chance to understand the world in an all-encompassing way and from a different perspective. It offers opportunities to challenge and expand one’s boundaries. I believe that this is an important quality to be successful. Study abroad will also benefit future career goals because it will strengthen international and cross-cultural skills. Some of the most valuable life lessons are learned while walking through the quiet mountains of Switzerland or while observing the architecture in Spain. I think that receiving an education internationally improves social and communication skills. You get to meet people from different backgrounds and cultures. Some of these people could even potentially become life-long friends. You learn how to connect with people when there seems to be no common ground. Being from different parts of the world does not mean that we are different than the people around us.

Traveling encourages personal development and it teaches an individual about him or herself in a new light. I have learned to appreciate life for what it is and to not take anything for granted. I believe that study abroad is a must-do experience for anyone that is able. I encourage everyone to take their own adventure; it will change their life.

This post was contributed by Alexa Nofsinger, who is studying abroad for a semester with AIFS in London, England.

What I've Learned from an International Education | AIFS Study Abroad
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