Choosing to study abroad has easily been the best decision I’ve made in my collegiate career. I have continually been granted opportunities to expand my comfort zone, knowledge and appreciation for people across the globe. In the past three months, I have spent time as a tourist and a temporary local. I am full of pizza, pasta and good wine as well as love for my foreign home. I cannot wait to come back to the United States with a newfound world perspective and appreciation for slow living, and tell people all about the many reasons to study abroad.
If someone you know is on the fence about making the commitment to studying abroad, show this blog post and encourage them to embark on the adventure of a lifetime!
Here are four great reasons to study abroad.
1. Connect with people from a new culture
Interactions with locals in your new host city are not hard to come across when studying abroad. You will find them at school, restaurants, while traveling or volunteering in the local community, at the grocery store, in family-owned shops and boutiques — or just simply by walking down the street. You can compare cultures, traditions, foods, languages, habits, and so much more. Italian culture is very different from American culture in a lot of ways. It is so interesting to hear and learn about how another country lives while simultaneously teaching the locals about how Americans typically go about their days.
2. Learn about yourself
Studying abroad has been more transformative than I had originally anticipated, and I have grown much differently this semester than I think I would have at my home university. This experience has forced me to reflect on the type of person I am, who I want to be both personally and professionally, and what I need and/or could live without back home.
Living and going to school on a different continent puts a lot of things in perspective. While the study abroad lifestyle is often dream-like and may not always be the most practical in the future, it has taught me that I want to better the balance of travel and adventure at home with my work and school life. There is so much of the world to see and I want to use the time that I’m fortunate enough to have to explore it.
I’ve also learned how well I can manage my money and time and have become confident in trying new things, like speaking in the native tongue or traveling by myself. I’ve thought a lot about how I can apply all of these things that I’ve learned once I’m back at home.
Traveling in Europe is a million times easier and cheaper than doing so in America. Most major cities in Europe have vast systems of public transportation, as well as train stations and airports that together create an inclusive environment for traveling within and between cities, across countries, and throughout the continent.
Whether you stay in your host city, explore a small town nearby, make a trip to the southern coast when you live in the north, or commit to a couple of days in a new country, it is all traveling! Different people have various budgets, abilities and comforts. Each study abroad experience is shaped in its own way, but Europe is without a doubt traveler-friendly.
In 114 days spent in Europe, I will have traveled to 13 countries and over 40 cities. I have explored my host city and country and taken time to soak up much of the overarching European culture, as well. It seems crazy to cram in so much, but it can be done.
4. Discover incredible friendships
Studying abroad brought me together with students from across the United States who I probably never would have met otherwise. Somehow, we decided to embark on the adventure of a lifetime all in the same program, for the same semester, in the same city. The world has so many places and people, but we all ended up here.
Some of these other students became my best friends in a matter of weeks and I am extra grateful for them because they have also become family. For a few months, my blood relatives are across an entire ocean and my study abroad friends have become my support system. We eat endless amounts of pasta, work through our homesickness, enjoy our successes, and laugh at our failures to communicate in our Italian community, as well as live our dreams and travel the world together!
They will always have a place in my heart, no matter where the world takes us. So, a special thanks is due to my study abroad friends for taking a piece of my heart back home to their respective ends of the world — and for letting me steal a piece of theirs. Friends like these are one of the many reasons to study abroad.