When I was a freshman in college, study abroad was the furthest thing from my mind. I wanted to meet friends, get a good internship and start developing my career. But an opportunity to take a history class in England presented itself rather timely, and I’m not sure where I’d be today if I didn’t jump on it. What an experience.
I get that studying abroad is not for everyone, nor does it fit into everyone’s college schedule. It’s tough to justify doubling or tripling your tuition for a semester when the debt is already piling up. Looking back, the reasons I think study abroad benefited me outweigh all the costs:
You’ll watch yourself grow. My trip ultimately helped me discover myself. I came back from my summer abroad a whole new (and excited) being. My goals and aspirations for the future became clearer. I kept reliving my experiences, yearning for the explorations and culture I had in each city I visited, large and small. I started my next school year with new confidence, a new understanding of what I wanted and who I was.
You will meet some lifelong friends + travel companions. It’s so nice to be around people who are on the same journey as you. For many of us, it was one of the first times we’d been out of the country. We were all walking new streets and seeing new things together; we just clicked. We bonded in such a short time but felt so close to each other. And with the amazing memories we made, it’s so easy to stay in touch and relive our travels.
Traveling pushes you outside of your comfort zone. When I was 18 and heading into my freshman year of college, I lived off of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. I didn’t really like to stop and ask strangers for directions or even talk to people I didn’t know. I rarely took risks or tried new things; I stuck to what I knew. I came back from England with a longing for more adventures outside of my comfort zone – and yes, I starting eating more than peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.
Culture. Culture. Culture. Being in a new culture, no matter how similar or different it is to yours, is an eye opener. I wasn’t expecting to be shocked going from America to the UK – I figured the biggest difference was the accent, right? But I learned and tried more than I could have imagined in my five weeks on UK soil. Realizing how vast and diverse the world gives you a whole new perspective on life – and gets you excited to see more of what’s out there.
Highlights from England
While everyone’s study abroad program is different, I like to think mine was pretty unique. We spent three weeks in London, York and Liverpool, and stayed a few weeks in a manor called Harlaxton in northern England. Because we were studying public history, the idea was to sit in the classroom as little as possible. Every day we were at a new museum, historic house, factory, castle, tower or public park. We were learning right from the folks that study these subjects day in and day out, and we went in depth on fascinating British history I didn’t even know existed.
Some of my favorite memories include exploring Winchester during a weekend with my best friend, going up in the London Eye at night, seeing the British Museum, walking through the quaint streets of York, and of course, family dinners with our awesome group. Check out highlights below featuring my 2010 digital camera with the stylish date stamp. 🙂
To the study abroad program that changed my life, THANK YOU! I owe my future to you: my fresh perspective on trying new things, my open mind about the world and my longing to learn more about what’s happening on this beautiful earth I live on.