Have you ever made a bucket list? Do you have dreams of seeing things like the Seven Wonders, the Eiffel Tower or an African safari? Well let me be the first to tell you, most of this world’s most incredible places are not in your backyard or down the street. They all involve distance. With a plane, train, bus or car, you can see the world-and you should. What’s stopping you?
Traveling the globe teaches us so much more than what we were taught in school over the years. We learn about cultures, ways of life, and that sometimes all it takes is patience and deep breaths to get through a hard situation. My dearest college students, this message is for you: You are young, healthy, and able-go see all this planet has to offer before it becomes too late. Within a matter of years, life will bring you a job, house, family, and everyday routine. Now is the time for adventure. Study abroad.
The past six months I spent in the beautiful city of Prague, Czech Republic. I traveled nearly every weekend, visiting sites like the Eiffel Tower and Berlin Wall, rafted through Croatian rivers, and hiked across the Cliffs of Moher. While these moments left me speechless and smiling long afterward, my favorite experiences took place during those casual days where I had nothing planned.
It’s the night I wandered through the hall of my dorm and got invited by a group of Italians to learn a traditional jig. It’s the time I was riding a train and a guy came on with his pet hawk and let me hold him on my arm. It was the cute, local coffee shops where I spent countless afternoons studying or catching up with my friends I’d made from all over the United States. There was never any way of knowing what tomorrow would bring.
Now, don’t get me wrong, for each happy moment there were at least one if not two struggles to go along with it. I remember one morning visiting eight stores, attempting five conversations with the locals in Czech and failing all of them, walking five miles and getting yelled at by one angry bus driver, all in order to get the can opener I so desperately needed for the can of soup I was planning on eating for lunch.
I’ve been stopped by tram police, had my bags stolen on a bus, and getting lost became simply an everyday experience. Did I cry? Multiple times. Was it worth it? Absolutely. I learned more in my six months abroad than I did throughout all of my previous semesters of college combined. Study abroad is hard, but it will give you more memories than you could ever imagine.
Through planning, saving and having a little faith in yourself, you can not only see the world, but truly experience it. College is all about living life to the fullest and having no regrets-don’t let this opportunity slip away. As Mark Twain said many years ago, “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover”. Studying abroad in college will change you for the better, so throw a dart at the map and see where life takes you.