4 Reasons Why You Should Study Abroad

4 Reasons Why You Should Study Abroad

Why not take a chance you'll never get again?
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Studying abroad is an opportunity that many college students hope and dream to experience. A chance to go off on your own, and to actually live in a country you have never been before is an amazing opportunity.

At Furman, we have a couple of options on how to study abroad. One option is to study away for a semester. Personally, I am not too interested in studying abroad for a whole semester. I feel like I would be homesick for way too long, and would definitely not want to miss out on holidays like Thanksgiving.

However, another option Furman has is to study abroad for the month of May. This is something that I was immediately interested in, and now I am going to New Zealand this May! Here are some reasons why you should go abroad.

1. To travel

Obviously, the most important reason is to travel. Especially if studying abroad in Europe, you do not have to limit yourself. I have a friend who will be studying abroad in Italy in the fall. She has already planned to go and visit London for a weekend and to also go to Paris. The options are endless, and if you have never traveled that far from home, like me, definitely make it worth your while.

2. Experience a different culture

Before college, I lived in the same house for 18 years. I have never moved, not once. So naturally, I am very accustomed to the culture that surrounds the beautiful Tampa, Florida. When I spend three weeks in New Zealand this spring (their fall), I am definitely going to have a culture shock. Having the chance to immerse yourself in a different culture and way of life is a positive aspect of studying abroad. It truly is something you would never get to witness again.

3. Resume builder

Studying abroad is a huge conversation starter. It is immediately the answer if a potential employer ever asks you, “So, what’s something interesting about you?” You can casually say, “I had the chance to study abroad in New Zealand and I jumped off the tallest building in the Southern Hemisphere.” (Yes, this is a thing. No, I will not be doing it.) That is an experience so unique, that your personality is brought into the room in an instant.

4. Make new friends

So maybe you know the people on your trip because you’re in the same major and have a few classes together. If you study abroad, you will make closer bonds with your peers and have memories you will never forget.

Whether it be for a semester, or for a month, I highly recommend branching out and traveling. It honestly is something that may never happen again once you graduate college and have to start looking for a job. I have never heard of someone who has not loved their trip, and would do anything to do it all over again. Look at your options, and maybe you too will have the trip of a lifetime.

Cover Image Credit: Christophe Brutel, Flickr

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Working With People Who Are Dying Teaches You So Much About How To Live

Spending time with hospice patients taught me about the art of dying.

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Death is a difficult subject.

It is addressed differently across cultures, lifestyles, and religions, and it can be difficult to find the right words to say when in the company of someone who is dying. I have spent a lot of time working with hospice patients, and I bore witness to the varying degrees of memory loss and cognitive decline that accompany aging and disease.

The patients I worked with had diverse stories and interests, and although we might have had some trouble understanding each other, we found ways to communicate that transcended any typical conversation.

I especially learned a lot from patients severely affected by dementia.

They spoke in riddles, but their emotions were clearly communicated through their facial expressions and general demeanor, which told a story all on their own.

We would connect through smiles and short phrases, yes or no questions, but more often than not, their minds were in another place. Some patients would repeat the details of the same event, over and over, with varying levels of detail each time.

Others would revert to a child-like state, wondering about their parents, about school, and about family and friends they hadn't seen in a long time.

I often wondered why their minds chose to wander to a certain event or time period and leave them stranded there before the end of their life. Was an emotionally salient event reinforcing itself in their memories?

Was their subconscious trying to reconnect with people from their past? All I could do was agree and follow their lead because the last thing I wanted to do was break their pleasant memory.

I felt honored to be able to spend time with them, but I couldn't shake the feeling that I was intruding on their final moments, moments that might be better spent with family and loved ones. I didn't know them in their life, so I wondered how they benefited from my presence in their death.

However, after learning that several of the patients I visited didn't have anyone to come to see them, I began to cherish every moment spent, whether it was in laughter or in tears. Several of the patients never remembered me. Each week, I was a new person, and each week they had a different variation of the same story that they needed to tell me.

In a way, it might have made it easier to start fresh every week rather than to grow attached to a person they would soon leave.

Usually, the stories were light-hearted.

They were reliving a memory or experiencing life again as if it were the first time, but as the end draws nearer, a drastic shift in mood and demeanor is evident.

A patient who was once friendly and jolly can quickly become quiet, reflective, and despondent. I've seen patients break down and cry, not because of their current situation, but because they were mourning old ones. These times taught me a lot about how to be just what that person needs towards the end of their life.

I didn't need to understand why they were upset or what they wanted to say.

The somber tone and tired eyes let me know that what they had to say was important and worth hearing. What mattered most is that someone who cared was there to hear it.

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My First College Gal Pal Road Trip Was Amazing

Every girl should have one good girls trip.

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In some way or another, everybody has a list of things they want to do in their lives before it's all over. After all, we're human. There's adventure to be had in every life. One thing I have always wanted to do before I grew too old and grey was go on a road trip with my gal pals to the beach. A couple weeks ago, I achieved this memorable milestone, and it allowed me to open up to new surroundings and experiences.

On this trip, I went with two of my friends from college, Kait and Lindsey, to visit my roommate Elizabeth in Virginia Beach. This was pretty big for Lindsey and I because neither of us had been to Virginia Beach before. Thankfully Elizabeth and Kait knew their way around the city, so we never got lost on our way to and fro.

Like most vacations, my favorite parts probably took place at the beach. I'm always at utter peace stomping through mushy sand or leaning down to splash the salty water that tries to knock my short self over. We took pictures and did something us college girls rarely have time to do especially in school: Relax.

The four of us did not live up to the crazed stereotype of girl trips in movies. Although I finally got a chance to sing along to Taylor Swift in a car ride with my friends, so that's always a plus. We played "Top Golf" one day, and by some miracle, I actually won the second game by a fair amount after much humiliation in the first one. We visited some of Elizabeth's family, and I finally got to meet her giant dog Apollo (I call him 'Wolf Dog'). Everyday was another chance to ask with enthusiasm: "So what are we doing today?"

Our trip wasn't like the movies where we all cried or confessed our deepest darkest secrets. Everything the four of us shared was laughter and this calm feeling of being at home, in the chaotic peace of each other's company. We understand each other a little better due to finally seeing what we're like outside of Longwood University. After this, all I can say is that we're most definitely planning the next one!

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