Are you asking yourself, “Should I study abroad?”
If you don’t know if you should, don’t know where to start, or don’t think you can, I want to share my study abroad story with you. Maybe it can help or inspire some of you.
It’s freshman year of college. My English professor is focusing our first writing class on travel writing—a genre I’ve never heard about. We read, we study, we talk, and eventually we write our own travel writing. I realize how much I love the concept of travel. I’ve never felt more at home in a single subject.
Fast forward to sophomore year. I’ve been through a lot. I’ve changed a lot. I have a friend who tells me I should get out of my comfort zone. I should do something hard, learn a language that’s completely new to me, and study abroad in a country with a culture different from my own. I’ve learned that saying yes to things, even when you can’t comprehend them fully, is a good thing. After asking myself, “Should I study abroad?” I make up my mind to do it.
I have no idea where to start.
All of sophomore and junior year go by. In my head, I know I want to study abroad but, in reality, I have no idea if it will happen. I tell people it will. I base my schedules and plans around my idea of studying abroad in the fall of my senior year. I hold on to the image of a new opportunity and all it can bring, even if I don’t know what it will actually look like.
I have to complete a thesis to graduate, and I remember back to my freshman year travel writing class. I get the idea to pair what I love with my academic career. I decide to combine study abroad with a thesis on travel writing. I have no idea if it will work out, but I believe it will anyway. I go for it. I take out loans from the school to cover the costs I can’t afford. I make deals with professors to attend important orientations and meetings through Skype in the middle of the night. I still don’t know if I will study abroad, but I do everything I can to make it happen.
It’s August 31, 2018. I’m getting on a plane to Salamanca, Spain where I will spend all of my fall semester. I don’t believe it until it’s actually here. I never knew if it would be my reality, and at the same time, I always believed it would. I made it happen despite not being able to pay for it, despite it disrupting the “proper” progression of my classes and thesis, despite only taking Spanish for two years in college before leaving, and I had a ton of people on my side fighting for me too.
The point is, don’t let anything stop you from doing what you want to do, even if it seems like there’s no way it could happen. No matter how many obstacles you have to face to study abroad, if you want it, it’s worth the fight. Academic goals can line up with your wildest dreams. Learning can be adventurous and exciting. And it’s important, because if it wasn’t, so many people wouldn’t have fought for me to make it here.
So, if you’re on the fence or you don’t know if you can or should, reconsider. Open up that little part of your mind that thinks you can’t and really question it. I didn’t know what I would find when I came here. Not for myself, and not for my thesis. But I took a leap of faith and I followed the little voice leading me to this adventure, and it’s the greatest thing I’ve ever done for myself. I stuck to a promise that I made to a friend who cares about me and encouraged me to do this. Let me be that friend to you. Fight for your dreams, fight through the unknown and the fear, and do something challenging and good for you. I promise, it’ll be worth it.