The priority ranking of study abroad programs for college students generally equate to one of two levels:
10 – Studying abroad takes top priority and you will do whatever possible to make it happen
1 – Either studying abroad takes the lowest priority because you don’t see it as “worth it,” or you’d ideally love to study abroad but can’t afford it
While having the financial means to travel is and should be a large determining factor for adding more stamps to your passport, it is not an impossible obstacle to overcome. But before you begin conquering these hurdles, you have to see your trip as “worth it.”
“I am not the same, having seen the moon shine on the other side of the world.” – Mary Anne Radmacher
I am a strong believer that traveling changes you as a person. It widens your scope and broadens your thinking—which can only benefit you. Even the smallest of cultural differences between our spoiled country and wherever you choose to visit can truly put into perspective your role in the world.
Notice how I said spoiled country; I seek to provide some context for you. I have traveled more within the United States than I have otherwise, as have most citizens. However, in my brief time abroad, it is abundantly clear just how many resources and freedoms we are entitled to in the U.S. Even typical norms that have seemingly callused themselves, such as clean water, processed foods or accessible health care, are much more insecure abroad.
Nothing can quite describe the feeling of walking into a church that was built centuries before our country was even a thought of. Understanding your place on earth’s timeline is both humbling and fueling. While we are all only one moment on the timeline, we are influenced by those moments that took place before us and thus influence the moments that follow.
“Travel makes one modest. You see what a tiny place you occupy in the world.” – Gustave Flaubert
One thing about studying abroad that could prevent students from hopping on a plane is an ugly little monster called fear. Stepping out of your comfort zone can be scary but more rewarding than you could ever imagine. The biggest stipulation to understand when traveling to a new country is actually studying for your study abroad.
Get a book, read articles and watch short films of the country you want to visit. Understand and develop a respect for the culture—this will make all of the difference when you have your first interaction. The more you know about where you’re going, the more comfortable you will feel and the better your experience will be.
Overall, have an open mind to new opportunities. Don’t limit yourself before you have the chance to get out of the gate. Trust me: everything works out in the end.
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do.” – Mark Twain