9 Reasons Why You Should Consider Studying Abroad!

9 Reasons Why You Should Consider Studying Abroad!

It's an adventure of a life time that you do not want to miss!

College is fun. Or so I’ve heard. It's the “best four years of your life” where you make friends for life, further your education, and prepare yourself for the rest of your life. But for some college students, that isn’t ambitious enough.

They desire to challenge themselves in a whole new way. They want to take the road less travelled and enter a place that probably does not speak their native language, nor practice the same American customs that they have been raised with. Studying abroad is one without a doubt one of the best decisions I’ve made in college. For a semester I had the time of my life, learned so much about culture, language, and most importantly, I learned about myself. I highly recommend every college student to consider studying abroad, and wanted to provide all of you with 9 reasons why you should think about it too!

1.) It's an adventure of a lifetime.

Just picture this: Packing up and getting on a plane to a destination that you’ve only seen in pictures, tasting new flavors, hearing new music, seeing works of art, architecture and countryside that can bring you to your knees with its beauty and contrast to what you’ve grown up with.

2. It makes you more proficient in your chosen foreign language

What better way to practice the language you study than to have to speak it on an everyday basis? You’re exposed to new vocabulary that serves a practical purpose in your life.

Suddenly, the word for “bakery” or learning how to ask for and give directions is important for your life! By the end of your semester, you’ll be miles ahead of your peers back at your home school at your level and will have improved so much.

3. You’ll probably be able to travel and see more countries than just your host nation.

During my semester in Paris, I was able to visit Dublin, London, Brugge (Belgium), Prague and visited several cities in France. I was exposed to so many cultures, foods, drinks, people and wonderful cities. Travel can be quite affordable if you are willing to do your research and plan far enough in advance!

4. You’ll make awesome friends

During my time abroad I made a few special friends I hope I will keep in contact with for the rest of my life. We all took on this new challenge together and bonded over the trials and tribulations that come with studying in a foreign nation. We traveled together, would cook and eat dinner at each others houses and go out and have a blast as Americans trying to get by in a new city.

5. You’ll learn to deal with stressful situations in a whole new way!

Life as a college student is hard enough, especially if you live independently at a big college. But imagine all of the struggles you have multiplied when you have a language and culture barrier to deal with! I remember during my first few days in Paris, just being terrified of anyone coming up to me and speaking French. By the end, I openly embraced challenges with language and culture.

6. The time away from your school will make you appreciate it more.

Going to a military college where my everyday life is rougher than most college students and is spartan, as far as comfort is concerned, I did not expect to miss my school. But I most certainly did. I found myself FaceTiming my roommates and loved hearing all about life back at VMI. Now that I’m back at school, I feel much better about it and the reunion I had with my friends was amazing. I have never loved my school so much before I left it for eight months.

7. You’ll receive a surprisingly excellent education

I went into my stay expecting the educational aspect to be lacking in difficulty and rigor. While the classes were not quite at the same level as the ones that I’m used to at VMI, I learned so much from the semester of classes I took in Paris. Not only did my formal language instruction pay off, but I took classes that were directly applicable in my major at VMI. I also was able to take some more fun classes like oenology, which is the study of wine! I came back home with the knowledge that I had not fallen behind in my studies, but was launched forward by it.

8. You’ll love the local culture

No matter where you are considering studying, you will come to love the culture you are immersed in. You’ll find yourself eating the local cuisine the way the locals do, rooting for the local sports teams, and taking pride in where you are. You strive to transition from “tourist” to being a local and the results are quite rewarding. Your friends or family will be so impressed with your knowledge of your new city and changed outlook if they come to visit you!

9. You’ll find a new place to call home

After spending four months (or more) in a new city and new culture, you’ll get more and more comfortable with your environment and will miss home less. In fact, when you return you may miss your host nation and all of the memories associated with it. When you look back, you’ll realize that it's your second home and that if you ever got the opportunity to visit it again, you would in a heartbeat. You love your city, or nation just as much as your own home, and wouldn’t change this experience for the world.

So get out there, there's a huge world out there to explore! Meet with your school's study abroad councelor today!

Cover Image Credit: Wallpaper Cave

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To The Girl Who Hasn't Been Herself Lately

Your spark return, and you will shine like you were meant to.

Life gets tough. Life gets too much to handle sometimes, and those times make you stronger. However, right now, it seems like you have lost yourself.

It’s difficult when you catch yourself not being you. When you do something or act a certain way and just wonder, “what did I do to deserve this? Why is this happening? When will it get better?” The way you’re feeling is not so much that you’re unhappy, you just feel weird.

Your day will come. I promise you. This is just a phase.

The day you realize how much you have grown from this point in time will be your reward. It is so hard to see now, and I feel your pain.

Your light will return to you. Your pure bliss moments, they are seeking you. Your laughter where your tummy aches is in your reach.

Our moods change far too often for us as humans to understand why, but the encounters you make every day have this effect on us.

You must remember the pure happiness you experienced before your first heartbreak, before the first friend became someone you thought they weren’t, before you lost your innocence. That was a time of true joy as you had not a care in the world for the things that would harm you. Better yet, you didn’t have the option to experience them because you were just a child.

The world can be an ugly place, and your attitude towards life can change every day. One thing is for certain: you did not lose who you are internally. We all put on a face for the world. For the people who we try to impress. For the life we want to live. For the things we want to achieve.

Your definitive personality is still in the works. Believe it or not, it always will be. Times like this change us for the better even though we can’t see it.

Your happiness will return. You will be a better, stronger version of you. In fact, you will be the best version of you yet.

Once this phase is over, you will be okay. This I promise you.

Cover Image Credit: Megan Sutton

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Solo Travel As An Extrovert Is Not Easy

Traveling alone, I can choose to view it as a difficult separation from other people or a journey of learning more about myself.


Life has a funny way of revealing itself and after my mom ditched me on our mother-daughter trip to Taiwan, I found myself on a plane headed to a country I had never visited where I didn't know a soul. (Disclaimer: I have relatives in Taiwan but had never met them prior to the trip.) I was excited for the adventure that awaited, fear not setting in of how difficult it would be not to just travel in a foreign country where I didn't speak or read any Mandarin beyond the very, very basics (Literally my vocabulary consisted of 10 simple words/phrases, one of which was the word for "apple" which isn't that helpful for getting around. I have since picked up a few more phrases.), but also be alone with just myself for company.

So much of who we are is influenced by the people around us. A large part of our identity comes the communities we choose to be part of and how we interact with others. But who are we when no one's looking? Who am I without the pressure of other people around me?

I am an extrovert. I get my energy from being around other people. It's not that I can't spend time by myself; I just prefer to be in the company of others even if we aren't always interacting the entire time. My best friend and I will even do independent activities together. (Once when we were hanging out, she was knitting and I was doing a puzzle. I swear we don't act like grandmas all the time.)

Although an extrovert, I'm still a pretty independent person who doesn't like to rely on others for help. But traveling alone in Taiwan, I don't have much of a choice. I'm forced to learn to navigate public transport myself and somehow survive with the basic English that Taiwanese locals know.

Learning to travel alone has been an emotional and difficult journey as this is the first time I've been on my own for this long. Although lonely at times, I've realized that loneliness is a mental state of mind. There is the Sanskrit saying, "Mana eva manushyanam karanam bandha moksayoh" which translates to "As the mind, so the person; bondage or liberation are in your own mind." My mind determines my emotional state of being and perspective! Traveling alone, I can choose to view it as a difficult separation from other people or a journey of learning more about myself.

Through solo travel, I am slowly learning to be comfortable with my own company which has been the biggest challenge. I was never an only child, I've always had a roommate in college, and even when I study, I go to public spaces like coffee shops so I can be surrounded by people. I don't know what to do when it's just me and my thoughts all the time. (Especially during meals. Should I appear busy on my phone like all the other single people around me?)

Because when you're traveling alone, you're in charge. You have control. You can change the itinerary from moment to moment without anyone's approval. No one's holding you accountable. Spontaneity? Let's go. You can build barriers but you can also tear them down. It's fun, it's exhilarating. But it's also scary. And unpredictable.

Would I go on another solo expedition in the future? Preferably not as traveling is way more enjoyable when you have someone to share the experience with. It's the people, not the place who make all the difference on a vacation. Yet I do believe solo travel is an experience that everyone should embark on at some point in their life (to grow and learn more about yourself).

This trip has taught me to find spontaneity in the fear and excitement and I've learned to embrace discomfort and unpredictability. To travel with not just my mind and logic but my heart. There are so many unique experiences, if you overthink too much, you'll lose your chance.

I've found that when I am alone, I become more vulnerable and open to meeting new people and having more offbeat experiences. I say yes with zero hesitation. Certainly, there are friends I made, hikes I climbed, streets I meandered, and epiphanies I had that wouldn't have transpired had I been with my mom or a group of people.

Traveling alone, I am now more confident in myself and am ready for the next wave that life throws me. Because I've learned that once you overcome the fear of being by yourself, getting lost (which you will), or accidentally eating meat as a vegan because you didn't understand the signage (I'm sorry!), the world in all its vast infinity can be pretty great. And there are some things that you can only learn on solo travel.

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