Of Studying Abroad
by Dani Phillips
July 23, 2018
People like familiarity. We like to feel comfortable. While going to college in a different state pushes us slightly out of our comfort zone, there is still a sense of comfort in knowing that home is probably only a short flight or a car ride away. Studying abroad in Europe, Africa, Australia, Asia, or South America may seems frightening, but there are few experiences which can impact you in the same way and with such magnitude.
When I began my semester in London, I knew no one, and had never been to the city before. Nevertheless, I was determined to make the most of my time. Before beginning this adventure, I messaged girls in the Facebook group for my program who I thought might make good friends. This truly paid off because one of those girls and her roommate ended up being my best friends on the trip.
Using public transportation, I was able to explore new areas of the city everyday in between classes. I tried new brunch spots and clubs every week. I am typically one who refuses to eat or travel places alone other than the gas station or a convenience store, but that all changed when I went abroad. I knew I had to make the most of my experience, so when my friends were in class, instead of hiding out in my room, I ate meals, shopped, toured museums and palaces, saw musicals, and went sightseeing all on my own.
I traveled to new and exciting cities almost every weekend. I saw sites that took my breath away, which were both man-made and natural, such as Park Guile in Barcelona and the Swiss Alps in Interlaken. I went paragliding, took chocolate making classes, toured more museums and palaces than I can count, and ate amazing local food without concerning myself with calories. I truly was living in the moment. I was taking classes and working to succeed in them, but for once, I chose not to stress over school work. Rather, I was fixating on the beauty and history of the cities I was visiting.
I gained a sense of independence from studying abroad that I never would have otherwise. I learned how to acclimate to other cultures and appreciate them for their differences. I also came to appreciate a lot of the ways in which America is different. For example, America has exemplary customer service when compared to other countries in Europe. Each country was unique and amazing for its own reason. There are a million reasons you can probably come up with for why not to study abroad, whether it be you don’t want to leave your friends, it’s too expensive, or you don’t want to be that far from home.
I can tell you from my experience and that of my friends who also studied abroad, that the friendships you make can be everlasting and it is very possible to ball on a budget due to cheep airlines and hostels. Go explore the world while school is your primary concern because pretty soon you will be entering the real world where things get a whole lot more complicated.