A High School Semester Abroad Is Your Best Preparation For College

A High School Semester Abroad Is Your Best Preparation For College

How my high school semester abroad prepared me better for college than high school itself could have

Whether you hate high school or absolutely love it, there comes a time in those four years when most students realize that they may need a break from the chaos. For me, that was the middle of my freshman year. Don't get me wrong, I loved almost every aspect of high school, but came about December of freshman year, I decided to apply to The Traveling School.

This semester abroad program gave me the opportunity to spend my first semester of sophomore year embarking on a four-month journey where I would be traveling through Southeast Africa while learning. Inevitably, I extracted a few lessons from those four months which my high school failed to teach, and many of them have become important as a college freshman.

Here is a list of the 5 lessons that I believe have made the greatest impact on freshman year, while some are obvious and somewhat cliche, others are slightly more complex.

1. Living Away From Home

The main and quite obvious lesson that I extracted out of my semester abroad would be the ability to live away from home. As many people did, I chose the mainstream high school path- attending a school that I could commute to every day, allowing me to sleep at my own house. Therefore, my semester abroad was the first time I got to experience the uncomfortable, tough, and honestly awkward act of living away from home for a decent amount of time. There I learned that while you will always have your true home, other homes can come and go, proving that home is can be simply a mindset and not always a place. Freshman year, that lesson reminds you that your home will always be where you grew up, or where family resides, but college gives you the chance to create a new home also so it is worth a chance.

2. Self Management

It is difficult to learn self-management when you have others constantly micro-managing you, whether it's teachers, parents, or friends, and once you arrive at college, you do not always have those resources to guide you. Participating in a semester abroad in high school teaches you how to live without that support, placing you in an environment that forces you to figure things out on your own, which is exactly what you have to do in college.

3. Vulnerability

High school was somewhat like a bed of roses- there were obviously some 'thorns' here and there in the awkward stages of those four years, but you felt comfortable in the 'soft petals' of the school with the routine environments and the familiar faces. With that said, life is not a bed of roses and it is important to be pushed outside of your comfort zone, allowing yourself to be vulnerable. By attending a semester abroad, I was at the epitome of being outside my comfort zone. I was vulnerable to making mistakes in front of unknown people, getting lost in a foreign country and vulnerable to the dangers of traveling abroad. However, it taught me that some of the best experiences and moments in life can come out of vulnerable episodes, like your freshman year in college, where you are stepping over your line of comfort.

4. Confidence

By allowing yourself to be vulnerable, you are ultimately gaining a sense of self-confidence. My high school taught many great lessons, but confidence was not one of them, so most of the confidence that I have today stems directly from my friends, and mostly from my semester abroad. When you have a sense of confidence, you form your own mannerisms, you make your own decisions, and you are independent. Essentially, you make yourself your own person, capable of doing things by yourself, and in college, it is important to have confidence in all aspects of your life, whether it be socially, academically, or just personally.

5. The World is Huge

Whether you lived in a large city or in a small hometown, everyone naturally forms a small community during high school. The typical high school community can be defined as your family, your friends, your acquaintances, and those people who you just know of. Little did I know before attending my semester abroad, the world expands far beyond my bubble of a community. Those four months abroad illustrated to me that there are not only so many intriguing people outside my previous community, but many more unique places, fascinating sights, diverse foods, etc. When beginning freshman year, remembering that the world stretches way beyond my high school community gave me a sense of comfort. It urged me to want to experience a new environment, encouraging me to take in all aspects of this new environment.

Cover Image Credit: Kat Nein

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11 Reasons Why You Should Release Your Wanderlust Spirit And Study Abroad In College

It will change your life forever.

As I entered college I told myself that I would never study abroad in the next four years of my studies. I knew I didn't want to be away from home for an extended period of time. I loved to travel, but I never thought it would be possible for me while I paid for college. Things changed, however, and this past January I took a course with the Orchestra on my campus to Sweden and Norway. While it was only for one month versus the 3 to 5 of an entire semester, my time abroad changed my perspective of wanting to go and study elsewhere. Here are 11 reasons why you should study abroad while you are in college:

1. You get to explore the world.

Unless you are blessed with wealth, having the chance to travel the world for long periods of time don't come very often. Not only do you get this opportunity, but it typically doesn't cost much more than you already pay for tuition.

2. You mature in a different way.

Sure, being a college student helps you mature... but having to go through that same experience while learning and adapting to a new culture just seems to make you mature differently. You learn financial skills and budgeting and discover how you learn.

3. You appreciate the smaller things.

While the food there was DELICIOUS, often times I had no idea what I was being served. This was definitely something that I always took advantage of having the privilege to know.

4. You learn about your own culture.

Turns out, it isn't normal to only get a single slice when ordering pizza. While at two different pizza places, you are served an entire pizza with a fork and a knife. This soon became like number 3, and I learned to appreciate sliced pizza.

5. You learn about the culture of others.

While learning what you intended to study while abroad, often times there are other museums and cultural visits. I was able to see many different churches, historical museums, and traditional places such as the Grand Cafe while I was away. While walking the streets, you also learn the atmosphere and how people spend their day to day lives.

6. You can practice your language skills.

With not having known more than a few key phrases before I arrived, you quickly learn what different signs mean. Even though in Sweden and Norway pretty much everybody speaks various amounts of English, it was fun to learn new words and phrases.

7. You gain independence.

You have to spend your money wisely, you have to take transportation you've never taken before, and you have to learn how to manage your time. You gain all of this while being able to explore a completely unfamiliar place. You learn to rely less on others and more on yourself.

8. You learn to adapt.

In my case, I had to learn how to adapt with the orchestra. We performed in a wide variety of places and some of which we barely fit on stage. We played in acoustic cathedrals and then we performed on dry, theatre stages. We never knew what we faced until the day of the performance.

9. Studying abroad is different than a vacation.

Typically, when you are on a vacation you go somewhere to relax and have fun. While studying abroad is both fun and relaxing at times, you are also there to gain more knowledge about your desired topics. Studying abroad provides you with a greater understanding if different topics, unlike a vacation.

10. You connect with others.

Not only did I connect with many people within the orchestra, but I was also able to connect with people I never knew I would! For instance, this photo shows two of my sorority sisters. The woman on the left is someone who lives I Sweden that I had never met before!

11. You make memories you will never forget.

I don't think I need to say anything more.

Cover Image Credit: Paige Wormer

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Global Commercial Laundry Market 2018 Manufacturers, Types, Application and Region

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