The financial responsibility of paying for college is a burden our generation is carrying heavily, and the thought of spending money on a trip abroad seems unnecessary. Studying abroad seemed like a dream I would never achieve. One afternoon, in my English class, a professor came in and presented the “England: Culture in Context” study abroad trip. In complete awe, I signed up for email notification and called my mom.
Fast-forward seven months and I was hopping on a plane to Manchester. The adventure that awaited me was unlike any other experience I had while in college. As a graduate (with debt), I look back and wouldn’t change a thing about my decision to study abroad. The learning experience outweighs the price you pay, and infects you with a bug you’ll never kick: the travel bug.
If you are a college student debating whether or not to study abroad, here are my 10 reasons why you absolutely must!
1. You will meet your best friend.
My best friend and I met while on our 2016 trip to England. The two of us became fast friends and quickly were very comfortable. You grow so close with people when you are in a foreign country without any other friends or family. This adventure quickly became intertwined with this friendship and she is easily one of the best things that came out of the trip. She is the only person who can fully appreciate the study abroad adventure we shared. We still share photos and memories.
2. You will become a forever traveler.
Since my trip to England, I have made it a goal to travel internationally bi-yearly. It was the United Kingdom in 2016, and Rome, Italy in 2018 … where will it be in 2020? Not only do I prioritize international travel, but I crave small adventures, too. This has inspired me to travel to nationally and become a tourist in my own city. I truly strive to make every moment an adventure.
3. Your learning will come to life.
Your study abroad experience is a focus of what you have been studying. For me, traveling to England meant studying historical cities and diving into authors I’d admired throughout my college years. It is in Stratford, England that my enjoyment of Shakespeare grew to full on love. To this day, I recall the magic of walking through his childhood home and strolling the streets he called home.
4. There is nothing holding you back.
At what other point in your life can you take a month to four months off a job, away from home? There is truly nothing tying you to wherever you are and you have the opportunity to venture out and learn. This also destroys the excuse to “wait until you have more money” because you’ll have a job, with limitations on time-off. Take advantage of this point in life and go!
5. You will try new things.
Inevitably, you will explore and venture out of your comfort zone. This can mean a variety of things, new food, new friends, new ideas. While England was within my realm of comfort, there were moments when I realized how different things were. I am a relatively loud person, I talk loud, I laugh loud; it is just a part of who I am. In the smaller areas of England, my laughter broke silence, often uncomfortably. One afternoon, I recall a friend of mine subtly reminding me to be a bit quieter on the train to avoid local stares.
6. Your reliance on others will be reduced.
For most students, this will be your first international trip without parental supervision. This will bring about lots of learning opportunities, but ultimately you will grow. The trip started with heavy airport anxiety (which I still get, btw!) I was afraid I’d get lost, or miss a flight, or lose my passport. The more I thought about my fears, the more things I became afraid of. By the end of the trip, I was a pro. I’d learned to pack intentionally, with a place to put my boarding pass and passport while ensuring they are easily accessible. Now, one of my travel goals is to go 100% independent.
7. You’ll become close with professors.
Without my parents to rely on, I turned to the only other adults, the professors. To this day, I still converse with the professor that led this trip. She has counseled me on job prospects, written recommendations, and offered expertise on career paths. The difference is that this professor knows you personally, and can assist on a different level.
8. You can adventure and explore other places while abroad.
While in England, I took trips away to London, Preston, Ireland, and Liverpool. I wish I’d done more, too! We had weekends free to explore and venture. In Europe, travel is reasonably affordable once you get there. We stayed in hostels for as cheap as 12 pounds per night. This is the perfect opportunity to pack as much adventure in as you can.
9. You’ll learn from other countries and cultures.
My study abroad experience was probably the least culture shocking place I could’ve chosen. England is like America in a lot of ways, but I still found myself eager to discover the differences. Politically, it was intriguing because England was preparing to vote on Brexit while I was there and America was gearing up for the 2016 election … both of these proved to be conversation starters!
10. You will never forget it.
The memories you will create, the lessons you will learn, the friends you will make, they will all stick with you forever. And it is not until you are there experiencing it that you can fully appreciate the magic of study abroad. The unforgettable experience has stuck with me and grown me in so many ways.