Everyone who studies abroad always comes back saying the same cliche things, such as how study abroad absolutely changed them or how they feel like they just belong in the place they studied in. Others will boast about skipping all their classes and partying every other night, which in a way, are also unique experiences. After 4 months abroad, I can assure you that although there is some truth in all of those statements, the reality is more of a mild mix of all of them. You will create unforgettable memories with friends and spend time partying it up in the city, but you will also come to genuinely appreciate your city for its small quirks instead of the major touristy activities. Regardless of your experience, however, here are some lessons everyone will have taken from their time abroad.
1. More Independence
No matter how well traveled you were before starting this semester abroad, when you're thrown into a foreign country with no one familiar, you'll be forced to grow up quickly. From figuring out how to interact with your non-student neighbors to figuring out meals every single day, studying abroad will help you grow up quickly. This may be the first time that you'll be away from everyone you know for more than a few weeks, and you'll have to find ways to cope with it.
2. New Perspectives
After spending more than 10 years in the American education system, learning about events like World War II and the Global Financial Crisis from a non-American perspective can be extremely eye-opening. Interactions and discussions with international students from other countries will leave you baffled at how many major things in history that your public high school education back in America never taught you. Picnics with your classmates will reveal new foods that you have never been exposed to, but that you now love and must eat once a week. The world is a diverse place, and it required you to get out of the country to truly realize it.
3. Travel opportunities
In the US, you could drive 7 hours from Los Angeles and still end up in California. In Europe or Asia or any other place, transportation methods under that same time can get you to another country or even multiple countries. Instead of a weekend trip to the mountains in the same state, you can take a train from Paris and end up in London a mere two hours later. With different countries so close together, take as many chances as possible to explore as much as you can. That being said, don't forget to travel within your own country and thoroughly explore the place you're living in!
4. Lifelong friendships
Even if you're an introvert, you'll find someone you can get along well with while abroad. Slowly but surely, you'll make that study buddy, gym buddy, boba buddy, or whatever-else-you-do buddy. Realistically, you won't be able to meet up with these people anytime soon after your time abroad, but you'll become so close to them during these few months because you're all on your own for the first time. Every few years, you'll still be compelled to meet up and catch up with them. Every time you visit a country, you'll be able to hit up the friend you made while studying abroad who lives there.
Everyone's study abroad experience will be different, but as long as you put yourself out there and make the most of your time abroad, you will come home with some of the fondest memories of your life.