If you were to ask me what’s the single best decision I’ve made in my entire life it would have to be… drumroll please…
“Experience, travel – these are as education in themselves.” – Euripides (Greek playwright, c. 480-406 BC)
Truer words have never been spoken. Travel, in itself, is one of the greatest educations you can give yourself. Contrary to popular belief, studying abroad isn’t always a glamorous adventure and can challenge you in a myriad of unimaginable ways. It’s excellent at pushing you outside your comfort zone which ultimately leads to our greatest personal growth and accomplishments. Not to mention that as a college student, you have the opportunity to study at some of the world’s best universities in the world’s most beautiful cities while learning from world-renowned professors. What more can you ask for?
If you have ever played with the thought of going on exchange, let me make it clear for you: DO IT. Going on exchange was singe-handedly the greatest decision I have ever made. I believe it should be a mandatory part of every student’s education as it is such an eye-opening and mind-expanding experience that will benefit you for your entire life. Not only is studying abroad incredibly fun and exciting, it can also help you in many ways after graduation:
- For me, studying abroad opened up a whole new world of possibilities when entering the job market and helped me land a dream job abroad in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. It is a great conversation point in an interview and will help you distinguish yourself from the sea of applicants competing for your job. Want to stand out and differentiate yourself? Ask your interviewer about the picture of the Eiffel Tower on their desk and talk about how you spent a semester abroad in Grenoble learning French.
- Allows you to create countless friendships with incredible people from all over the world. I literally have a network of hundreds (if not thousands) of awesome friends all over the globe. Just for example, I met Andy while studying abroad in Vienna, Austria in 2007 and now we’re traveling the globe together. Funny how things work.
- Teaches you to adapt to new environments by completely removing yourself from your comfort zone. By immersing yourself in a new culture, you learn to appreciate things you would normally take for granted which allows you to gain a greater understanding of how the world works.
- Forces you to make new friends by putting yourself into a completely new situation with no previous relationships or friends. This life skill is invaluable and will help you adapt to new situations that much easier and expand your network immensely. Not to mention you’ll also need to learn how to party 5 nights a week
- More often than not, you’re exposed to a new language, new culture, new food and quite possibly even a new world view. You can take these learnings back with you to your normal life and experience your own home town in a whole new way. After returning from exchange, I appreciated my city so much more and learned to see my “boring” city for what it truly was. It’s amazing what a little perspective can do.
At the end of the day, it comes down to making the choice and taking a leap of faith. If money is your biggest concern, then maybe Europe isn’t best for you – but that doesn’t mean you can’t still study abroad. There are world-class Universities and Colleges in South America, Mexico and Central America or even Southeast Asia, in Thailand for example, where the cost of living is significantly lower than the US. Who knows? You might just even save some cash by going on exchange.
“Empty pockets never held anyone back. Only empty heads and empty hearts can do that.” – Norman Vincent Peale
Everyone says that they’ll travel – when the time is right. They’ll travel once they finish their degree, or maybe after a couple years of work after they have some money saved up. Don’t wait, do it now. The timing will never be right and you may wake up 20 years from now behind your desk job wondering where the time went and wishing you had experienced more. Don’t let that be you.
For the love of travel,
P.S. Be sure to check out StudentUniverse’s list of the Most Popular Study Abroad Destinations to start planning your semester abroad.
P.P.S. What are you waiting for? Take a leap of faith and book your flights today!