Last Updated on October 28, 2019 by Catherine Rollins
So, you’ve finally decided to study abroad. Who are the first people you want to tell? Your best friends, of course! And while they should be over-the-moon excited for you, I am here to tell you why you should consider studying abroad alone — meaning, without them. (It will be great in the long run, trust me!)
I know how scary the idea of living in a foreign country for 5 months without knowing anyone may seem. You fear that you will not have anyone to confide in if you’re homesick or not have anyone to travel on the weekends with.
And while going with your friends can end up being an amazing experience ever, I am here to tell you why studying abroad alone will be the best decision you’ve ever made.
1. Grow in your independence
Studying abroad alone pushes you to become more independent than you ever thought you could be. There will be times when you have to figure out directions in a new city, or order off a menu that is in a language other than your own. These moments will teach you how to think for yourself and become a more adaptable person. You will realize how capable you are of handling stressful situations without your close friends from home.
Because I studied abroad solo, I never felt the need to do things that I didn’t want to do or please people to avoid hurting their feelings. I had so much time to reflect on my days, which allowed me to get to know myself in ways I never thought possible. Once a week, I would walk to a local park after class with a blanket and a journal and just sit, wonder, and reflect. It was in these moments where I truly appreciated the alone time I had.
3. Make amazing friends
While it is always a bit scary to talk to new people, I ended up becoming best friends with the people I studied with within days of me arriving abroad. Because I didn’t know anyone, I had to force myself to talk to the people that I would be seeing on a day-to-day basis. What you will realize is that almost everyone is in the exact same boat as you. Most people choose to study alone, so you will easily make friends with the people in your program. Had I chose to study abroad with friends from home, I would’ve never branched out the way I did. I met some some amazing people that I still talk to today (one year after studying abroad!) You will never forget the memories you created with the friends from your study abroad experience.
I know how uncomfortable it can be to do things on your own, but you will feel amazing when you step out of your own comfort zone and take a risk. And remember, you are never actually alone. You will have the people you meet in your program, your administrative staff on site, and your friends and family are just a phone call away.
Studying abroad without your friends from home will allow you to make more meaningful relationships with the people in your program, as well as uncover things about yourself that you wouldn’t have otherwise. You will never have an experience like this again – make it be worthwhile.