Home Alumni 3 Life Lessons I Learned from a Semester Abroad

3 Life Lessons I Learned from a Semester Abroad

by McKenna Jacobson

Last Updated on August 29, 2019 by McKenna Jacobson

1. Take Advantage of and Enjoy Things in the Moment

Unfortunately, and fortunately, nothing lasts forever. That is why it is important to take advantage of and enjoy things in the moment, while you can, and while it lasts, even if you are not in the best situation at the time. My experience abroad was amazing overall, but I will be honest, there were times when I really wanted to be back home in my comfort zone. In those moments of homesickness, it was easy to focus entirely on those feelings. Looking back, I wish I had taken better advantage of the unique and temporary situation I was in. I feel so fortunate that I had the opportunity to study abroad, and although it may be hard to fully appreciate the situation you are in while you are in it, it is important to fully take advantage because you will not be in that moment forever. Whether it is good or bad, you may have regrets and miss it when it is over if you do not make the most of it while you can.

2. Be Flexible and Keep an Open Mind

Before I went abroad, I already saw myself as a pretty flexible person. My patience and flexibility were tested when I began traveling with new friends that I met abroad. Traveling, even when you are doing it with your closest friends, can be challenging and bring out the worst in people. In moments of frustration, it is important to take a step back, take a deep breath, and let go of expectations. This will apply to many situations in life. While it is good to have a plan, and be well-prepared, it is also good to be adaptable and open minded when things do not go the way you thought they would.

3. Find Courage and Take Risks

The decision to study abroad was a little scary. It took a lot of planning and a lot of courage. It is hard to step out of your comfort zone and enter a completely new environment where you have little control and a lot of uncertainty. But taking risks is a big part of life. Ultimately, studying abroad was one of the best decisions I have made in my life. Courageous and risky acts help you grow as a person and learn. Once you know that you can handle and survive a situation like studying abroad, you feel more confident to take on new challenges. It may not turn out the way you expected or hoped, but do not let that discourage you from facing the next unfamiliar situation in your life head-on. If you never try, you will never know.

This post was contributed by McKenna Jacobson, an AIFS Study Abroad Alumni Ambassador who spent a semester in Barcelona, Spain.

3 Life Lessons I Learned from a Semester Abroad | AIFS Study Abroad | AIFS in Barcelona, Spain

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