Studying abroad is often the highlight of many collegiate careers; however, many of these adventures abroad don’t happen until after sophomore year when more opportunities are available. While I support studying abroad as often as you can, I highly support finding a way to take a study tour at some point during your freshman year. This might be an entire semester, a month, or a summer program–whatever it might be, here are four reasons to jump on the study abroad bandwagon early and explore the world as soon as possible.
1. You learn to deal with life outside of your comfort zone and grow an an individual. Studying abroad is often chaotic and full of mishaps. Each day brings new experiences and adventures–sometimes you get lost or miss a train, while other times you take a terrifying but exciting dive off a cliff or make friends with a local. This mix of the good, the bad, and the ugly teaches you that life is a series of successes and failures, many of which will test your boundaries. Learning to face life’s unknown with a good attitude fosters a mature outlook and encourages you to grow as a young adult. That’s honestly something that doesn’t always happen as a freshman, since it’s far too easy to get caught up in the novelty of your university’s campus.
2. You gain a global network of friends and contacts. Grades and extracurricular are important; however, the key to college is learning how to network successfully. Making friends with your professors, learning who is who on the education board, and finding ways to serve “behind the scene” on your university’s campus is fantastic. Still, if you are able to start your sophomore year with professional and local contacts abroad, you’re going to gain ground on the academic battlefield–having a broad network is great backup and it definitely boosts your future study abroad prospects as well as career opportunities.
3. You learn to appreciate other cultures. Sure, most everyone entering college is aware of other cultures. There’s a very small few who are actually able to truly appreciate them as a freshman, though. Experiencing and learning to understand another culture outside of your own strengthens your academic abilities and aids your ability to think outside of the box in a way that extends beyond continental boarders. In a close-connected world (which is constantly growing more and more connected) this is an essential skill to have.
4. You return with broader horizons and bigger dreams. When you venture outside of your own back yard, you start a whole new chapter of your story. Life instantly becomes bigger while making you realize just how small the world is. Okay, so it might sound a big paradoxical: a small world with broad horizons. However, as you travel and see more of the world, you realize how infinite the sky is. At the same time, you realize that the sky is the limit–the more you explore the world outside your door, the deeper your dreams become. There’s just something about studying abroad that makes you feel like a bird ready to take flight, so don’t be afraid to stretch your new wings and meet the endless sky of dreams.
What are some important lessons you learned while studying abroad?
If you haven’t visited Words On My Page before, jump on over to Truths of Travel , Exploring Playa Palada, and Five Things I Learned While Studying Abroad to hear about my freshman adventures in Costa Rica!