If You're Gonna Study Abroad, Study Way Abroad

If You're Gonna Study Abroad, Study Way Abroad

50
views

If you're going to do it then do it right.

I want to start this article by stressing that EVERYONE should do everything in their power to try and study abroad. No matter where you go it will be an exhilarating and rewarding experience. With that said, I want to make a case for taking classes that are not traditional for American college students. I'm talking about skipping on London or Paris or Madrid and going somewhere a little less first-world. Instead, take some classes in Southeast Asia like I have (I'm currently taking MMW14 in Bangkok). Jump off the beaten path and into cultures that are nothing like our own and explore a part of the globe that a company like National Geographic regularly visits. Why venture here? I've got four reasons: its cheap, its a doorway to religions and cultures misunderstood by Americans, it gives perspective, and it's a hell of an adventure.    

When I say things are cheap I mean dirt cheap. I'm currently writing this article from my hotel room in downtown Bangkok which is almost identical to a room that you stay in when visiting a decent casino in Vegas. Its fifteen dollars a night. Everyday I eat the most delicious pad thai, garlic fried chicken, and dumpling soup for about a buck fifty a meal. One night during a weekend trip to Cambodia me and my friends went out and I had three courses of Khmer BBQ, picked up three pitchers of beer and a round of shots from my group at several clubs, and then took a tuk-tuk taxi home; the whole night cost me seventeen dollars. I spent less than a hundred bucks on a long weekend of bar hopping and snorkeling on the paradise island of Koh Chang. The amount of bang for your buck you get in these countries is absolutely ridiculous. I'm having the time of my life, not skimping on anything, and I'm barely spending anything.

Moving away from the financial benefits, studying in Southeast Asia has introduced and better explained Buddhism and Hinduism to me. Not many people in America know anything about these two religions and I'm sure if I asked a bunch of random people on the street the general consensus would be that they are people who don't eat cows, are from India, and pray to a fat guy. These ignorant blanket statements don't give any credit to these sophisticated beliefs. Over the last few weeks I have visited holy places like Angkor Wat, read sacred texts, and had conversations with monks. I now see how beautiful these religions are. Sure, many of the ideas and details are odd to me but these religions have motivated masterpieces and are an integral part of a friendly and considerate society. It behooves an "educated" member of American society to learn something real about the religions that a third of the world's population subscribe to because we can better ourselves and become more refined intellectuals when we are exposed to viewpoints different from our own.

Although most of Southeast Asia is exciting and gorgeous, there are darker areas as well. In the more run down areas of San Diego we are often exposed to a large homeless population wandering around trying to bum money off of people or score drugs. I see them all the time and don't think twice. What I don't see all the time in San Diego though are impoverish orphans, three and four years old, living in gutters and begging me for anything. I don't usually see large families living in mold soaked shacks that line the putrid klongs of Bangkok. I don't usually see desperate men toil and scrape by with their families unable to make more money because of a strict caste system that keeps them in submission. All of this is shocking but it causes one to look at themselves and at their own country. During my time here I have gained more compassion. I am reminded, and have become more appreciative, of the fact that I live in a country where all men are equal. Those God given natural rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness really mean something when you see someone who has none of that. It is not common to be exposed to people in Europe with nothing but their families, their religions, and their unending inequality. This alarming reality and subsequent introspection is life changing, is life improving, and is only available far away from the West.

The sights of the poor and suffering are painful but they do not define the experience in Southeast Asia. This place is beyond beautiful, and studying here is above all a terrific adventure. During your stay you will spot elephants and monkeys in traffic. You will drink and eat in florescent bars where you will meet people from all over the world who came here with the sole purpose of having fun. You will journey to paradises like Koh Chang and Chiang Mai and take snapchats on the beaches where the screensaver photo on your phone was taken. You will explore the jungles and temples built by ancient civilizations. You will learn new words and to love the muggy heat that intensifies both the atmosphere inside a dance club and casual strolls around the busy cities. Most importantly, you will learn about yourself. You will learn that we inhabit a world not all the way Westernized, and how you can fit into it. You will learn that reflection on societies and ideologies different from your own make you a more enlightened person. You will learn to make the most of this life and go on every adventure that it offers.           

      

Cover Image Credit: anotherheader.wordpress.com

Popular Right Now

11 Inexpensive Road Trip Destinations For College Students

Because adventure.
65466
views

College is a time to make memories. It is a time to set out and explore the world. The only problem is that it can be difficult to travel when you’re flat-out broke. Many college students are discovering that while the cost of textbooks and tuition increases, their travel funds sadly decrease. Since jet-setting to Paris or Rome may be out of reach at the moment, many students are resorting to road trips within the United States to fix their case of wanderlust. Not only are road trips much more affordable, but they also allow for more spontaneity and exploration. There are countless of hidden gems just waiting to be explored, so grab some friends, put on your favorite Spotify road trip playlist, hit the road and make memories at these 11 incredible places.

1. Havasu Falls, Arizona

It is hard to believe that such a breathtaking waterfall can exist in the middle of the desert. Thankfully, Havasu Falls is no mirage. The falls are located in a remote region of the Grand Canyon and can only be accessed through a 10-mile hike. The entry fee to the park is relatively low and the overnight camping fee is even lower, making it a great destination for college students on a budget.

2. Great Sand Dunes National Park, Colorado

Instead of spending a semester's worth of tuition on an expensive snowboarding trip, students can try a cheaper alternative - sandboarding. Located in Southern Colorado, Great Sand Dunes National Park is a unique destination that offers a variety of activities. Businesses right outside the park offer the rental of boards, sleds and even skis all specially made for the sand. This means that the rental and entrance fees are the only costs for a fun-filled day of surfing the dunes.

3. South Padre Island, Texas

Whether you head to South Padre for an exciting, fun-filled spring break or for a relaxing weekend getaway, renting a condo is the way to go. The cost of renting a condo can be very low if you split it among several people, which means you can enjoy a tropical beach vacation without breaking the bank.

4. Las Vegas, Nevada


Vegas can either be a very expensive destination or a very inexpensive destination. That's why it is important to play your cards right - and I'm not just talking about gambling. Skip staying the night at the high-end hotels and enjoy their free attractions instead. If you decide to hit the casinos, make sure to keep track of your money - those textbooks don't pay for themselves.

5. Smoky Mountains, Tennessee

In the fall, college campuses across America celebrate the chilly weather with football games, bonfires, and pumpkin-spiced everything. For those who want to switch things up, pack your bags and head to the Smoky Mountains. These beautiful mountains are a must-see in the fall due to the stunning scenery and fall foliage. Try renting a cheap cabin or camping at Smoky Bear Campgrounds to save money.

6. Austin's Sixth Street, Texas

Sixth Street is an iconic and historic street in the heart of Austin. From the exciting nightlife and multitude of bars to the live music and unique art galleries, Sixth Street offers a little something for everyone. For a truly unique Austin experience, stay at the affordable Firehouse Hostel, just minutes from Sixth Street.

7. Daytona Beach, Florida

Located about and hour and half south of Jacksonville, Daytona Beach is notoriously known as a wild spring break destination for college students. While exploring all the concerts, bars and clubs that Daytona has to offer, students can take advantage of the free party bus for easy and affordable transit.

8. Albuquerque, New Mexico

For the low price of only $10 per person, you can experience Albuquerque's annual Balloon Fiesta. A photographer's dream, the Balloon Fiesta offers tons of unique sights, shopping opportunities, and delicious food. If you can't make it to Albuquerque in October, when the Balloon Fiesta takes place, there are plenty of other affordable places to explore. From Sandia Peak to Old Town, Albuquerque offers something for everyone.

9. Rainbow Springs State Park, Florida

For water lovers, this Florida gem has it all. Kayaking, snorkeling, scuba diving and tubing are just a few of the many activities you can enjoy in the crystal clear water of the Rainbow River. Since this destination is off the beaten path, it is an affordable alternative to Florida's Discovery Cove.

10. New Orleans, Louisiana

Two words: Bourbon Street. Full of iconic bars, local jazz musicians and interesting cuisine, there is never a dull moment on Bourbon Street. As if this famous street wasn't crazy enough, in February thousands of college students flock there to celebrate Mardi Gras. Though the prices of drinks can be high during this time, students can save money by booking their hotel ahead of time. For under $100 per night, Astor Crowne Plaza offers guests a luxurious stay on a budget.

11. Pacific Coast Highway, California

Though this one is not quite a destination per se, it should definitely be high up on your bucket list. This coastal highway, also known as Highway 1, hits many of California's major cities such as San Fransisco and Santa Monica. As if a trip to these cities is not exciting enough, the drive itself is extremely scenic. To save money on this trip, try booking cheap hotels or even stay for free at hostels. Of course, with this trip and all of these trips, you are bound to spend some money. But the memories that you will make on these trips will be worth every penny.

Cover Image Credit: StockSnap

Related Content

Connect with a generation
of new voices.

We are students, thinkers, influencers, and communities sharing our ideas with the world. Join our platform to create and discover content that actually matters to you.

Learn more Start Creating

15 Things To Know When Coming To The City Of Champions

Yeah honey, we are talking about Boston, Massachusetts

108
views

Welcome to the best city on earth. The city where our baseball team has a patented color, you can drive 90ft below Earth's surface, and the first college in North America opened (yeah, you Harvard)! We know we are great, and we have no problem telling you all about it; but before booking your next family vacay, remember these 15 things, and good luck!

1. No one says "park your car in Harvard yard!"

First of all, if you park your car in Harvard's yard, you will get ticketed and towed. Also, if you ask us to say this specific phrase we will purposely pronounce everything perfectly just to grind your gears. We are NOT stupid.

2. We have the best sports teams.

If you're from New York and about to try and argue this point, shhh.. just shhh. No one wants to hear it. Ever. Also, we have two chants "Yankees suck" and "Beat L.A." Both are appropriate at all times. Did we mention the 11 parades in 17 years too?

3. We sure do run on Dunkin'

Walk to any street corner in Boston and there will be a Dunkin Donuts, we promise. No matter the season we order ice coffee and "regular" means cream and sugar.

4. The "Freedom Trail"…

First of all, it is really long…too long. Second, it is not that cool. You can skip it, trust us on this one! OH and the Plymouth Rock - it seriously is just a rock.

5. We are not ALL jerks.

We just don't want to talk to you, help you or look at you. God, it is 10 am dude, no one can possibly be THAT happy even after three iced coffees

6. Driving

Speed limits, do they exist in Boston? Technically, yes and it only goes up to 65mph. In reality, absolutely not. It is every man for themselves out there. Also, every street is one-way. And they all go the wrong way from where you want to go. Good luck!

7. The Cape

No, it is not something you wear, it is where you go. Cape Cod is a mystical land that only exists in the minds of tourists.

8. "Wicked"

Yes, we all know this is a very famous Broadway musical, and that was wicked awesome too. But here we stick to our version - wicked = really

9. Chowder (Chowdah)

You know? Clam chowder? It is white and creamy. Anyone who says otherwise is silly and ignorant.

10. The term "Masshole"

If you call us a "Masshole" we will giggle and agree with you. That is not an insult. Try again.

11. The Shores

Never ask a Bostonian which shore is better (North or South). They're both good, but the south shore is WAY better. Unless you're from the north shore, in which case, you're wrong (again).

12. Bud Light

Yes, this is an appropriate answer to most questions. For example: What are you in the mood for? Why did you go home with him or her? What are you bringing to Thanksgiving?

13. Lobster

We can eat a two-pound lobster without using tools. If you need tools, you ARE a tool.

14. We only acknowledge three other states:

Anything west of Route 495 is New York. Anything west of New York is California and anything south of New York is Florida.

15. Massachusetts Invented America.

You can thank us in Bud Lights (see above).

Love,

The Bostonians

Related Content

Facebook Comments