In my second year of University, I decided to study abroad for 5 months in the US. It’s something I’d always wanted to do. As much as I enjoyed travelling, I’d never had the opportunity to really live in a new place – to have a routine, a favourite coffee shop, a new group of friends, and an in-depth knowledge of the supermarket (or grocery store as I’d come to know it). Little did I know that studying abroad would give me all this and more. In fact, I don’t think I’m being dramatic when I say that studying abroad changed my life. It gave me time away from my usual surroundings to reassess my life, who I was and what I wanted. It also cemented my love of travel and was the catalyst for all my future trips. Here are the 7 reasons why I’d recommend studying abroad to everyone.
1. Your Confidence Will Grow
Your comfort blanket is whipped away from you when studying abroad. You no longer have your friends or family to lean on or hide behind, and the new space strips away any complacency or comfort you might feel in your home environment. When studying abroad, I had to do things that I’d never done before. I went to a doctor’s appointment alone, overcoming a fear I’d had of the doctor’s for as long as I can remember. I also caught a flight to Mexico alone and found my way to the random Airbnb where my friends were waiting to meet me. Even small things, like new social situations, forced me out of my comfort zone. I realised that by doing things that felt scary, my confidence grew and I found that there wasn’t really anything to be afraid of. I came back from studying abroad with a new-found confidence in myself and my ability to work through any situation.
2. You’ll Make Great Friends
One of the great things about studying abroad is all the new people you’ll get to meet. Sure, you won’t gel with all of them – that’s life. But you will find people who are on the same wave-length as you, who make you laugh, and who you’ll meet up with for years to come. Who doesn’t want friends all over the world?!
3. It’ll Look Great on Your CV
There’s no denying that studying abroad looks great on your CV. It shows an ability to strike out on your own, to communicate with people from different backgrounds, and a knowledge of something other than your University curriculum. It can definitely give you an edge when applying for jobs!
4. You’ll Get Out of Your Bubble
When we’ve lived in one place our whole lives, sometimes it’s easy to think that our way is the right, or only, way. Being in a completely new place exposes you to new norms and ways of thinking. Whilst studying abroad, I was struck by much of the inequality that existed in this new city I found myself in. Although this was something that I’d been aware of before, it’s never something that I’d been so starkly confronted with. It quickly dawned on me how much further we have to go in stamping out prejudice & inequality, something that I might never have fully appreciated had I stayed at home.
5. You’ll Get to Know Yourself Better
When you move across the world on your own, you cut out all the fluff that buffers your ego. You’re left on your own to examine your thoughts and get to grips with who it is you really are. How do you act when the going gets tough? How do the major players in your life affect how you see yourself? This is perhaps what I’m most grateful to studying abroad for. I made lasting changes to who I was as a person as a result of those 5 months. I came to realise how much the people I surrounded myself with affected my behaviour. I began to be more careful about who I spent my time with, as well as notice how I changed my behaviour to suit others.
6. You’ll Find a Greater Appreciation for Home
You don’t know what it’s got until it’s gone. We’re probably all guilty of looking around and thinking ‘I wish I was somewhere else right now’ from time to time. When studying abroad, you come to realise that it’s not necessarily the place that sucks, but your attitude. You’ll come to appreciate those little things that you take for granted – like your mum’s delicious home cooked shepherd’s pie, your cushty double bed, and your adorable (if a little smelly) dog. I personally will never take Hula Hoops for granted ever again.
7. It’s the Perfect Opportunity to Travel
One of the best things about studying abroad is the opportunity to travel to so many new places. I spent more weekends than I care to admit wandering the streets of New York in the cold sunshine – something I used to dream of doing. I sunned it up in Mexico, watched the Red Sox play at Fenway Park, and watched the cherry blossoms in bloom in Washington. All of these things would usually require a meticulously planned trip if I were to fly from home, plus a fair amount of money. When studying abroad however, most of them were cheap as chips and a mere 2 hour bus ride away.
Have you studied abroad?
If so, where? And how did you find it? Let me know in the comments