I Studied Abroad In College, And So Should You

I Studied Abroad In College, And So Should You

"I am not the same having seen the moon shine on the other side of the world". - Mary Anne Radmacher

It’s the time of year when many colleges are recruiting for study abroad programs for students to participate in over the summer break. I studied abroad for a month the summer between my freshman and sophomore years of college on a poultry farm in Nampula, Mozambique. Mozambique is a country in southeast Africa, and is one of the poorest countries in the world, with only a 15% EMPLOYMENT rate. Before leaving for this experience, I was nervous about what I was getting into. Now, I truly believe it was one of the best decisions I've ever made, and anyone who is considering studying abroad should do it for these simple reasons.

1. You meet and get close to so many new people.

My university is big, with over 20,000 students, so as you can imagine, I don’t know everyone. I didn’t know anyone who went to Mozambique with me at first. We all walked into our first group meeting and it was completely silent, with no one talking to each other. That changed quickly though. When you spend a month in a country with VERY limited internet access and few people who speak the same language as you, you tend to get close to those you're traveling with. I also met people who worked on the farm from all around the world, and despite some language barriers, I still formed relationships with them that never would have happened had I not embarked on this opportunity.

2. The once-in-a-lifetime experiences.

I checked things off my bucket list that I didn’t even know were on my bucket list. I swam in the Indian Ocean, and then watched the sun rise over it the next morning. I attended church in an African village, and heard them recite the Lord’s prayer in Portuguese. I did relay races at an orphanage, and slept under a mosquito net to protect against malaria. I went on a safari and saw wild lions, giraffes, elephants, and many other animals. I learned a southern hemisphere constellation, and stargazed on a beach with zero light pollution. As you can see, the experiences are endless and some just pop up and you take them because who knows if you’ll ever be back to where you are in that moment.

3. Culture shock.

This one isn’t usually seen as a good thing, but I honestly think it opens your eyes to the world around you. I went from complaining about there not being seconds at dinner, or the lack of hot water in our hotel to being thankful for any food and the fact that I even had running water. There were so many times I had to remind myself to not be a diva. I sometimes catch myself complaining about petty things, and it doesn’t take much for me to remember how truly lucky I am to have what I have.

4. You learn to get over yourself.

So what you’re only alive due to the bottle of Pepto you’ve been carrying around with you and everyone else on the trip knows it? You haven’t washed the clothes you’re wearing the whole time you’ve been away? Oh well. The most anyone has been able to do is hand wash their clothes in the sink anyways. If you start crying for some unknown reason, that’s fine too. You trip on a flat surface and you get a massive cut on your leg that you still have a scar of to this day? The worst that'll happen is you'll get the superlative for 'most likely to trip on a flat surface'. Everyone has issues of all different kinds, and you learn to accept your own and not judge anyone else for theirs.

5. People skills.

The downside to only speaking the same language as a few around you, is that you can only fluently talk to handful of people, which can cause some rifts. I learned that if I needed alone time to get through an issue, that was perfectly okay. But I also learned to look past any disagreements and work together with my teammates since that was what I was there to do.

6. You put a face on that "starving kid in Africa".

Now this is only applicable if you study abroad in an impoverished country in Africa, but it can be applied in many ways depending on where you may go. I think everyone, at some point in their life, have joked about "some starving kid in Africa" when their friend doesn't want to finish their food at a restaurant, or when their sibling doesn't like their dinner and refuses to eat it. When people joke about these “starving” kids, I now see faces that smiled at me while I was away. I remember people I worshiped with on a Sunday morning, and children who played soccer with (and MAJORLY beat) me. That phrase isn’t just a phrase anymore, it is actual people, and I do my best to speak up when someone carelessly uses it.

Studying abroad was one of the greatest experiences of my life so far. I truly don't think anyone regrets studying abroad. It might be scary, intimidating, a lot of money, etc…but there has been nothing in my life more rewarding than my experience in Mozambique. No matter where you feel called to go, GO! It might turn out to be the greatest experience of your life.

Cover Image Credit: Victoria Tarkington

Popular Right Now

11 Things Y'all Know To Be True If Y'all Are From The South

Northern folk just don't get it.


If you live in the south, there are some things you can completely relate to. It's different down here, and that's why we love it. It is home, and we are thankful that we live here. We wouldn't want to be anywhere else. No matter where we go, our hearts will always be in the South.

1. You have good manners.  

Your parents definitely taught you to ALWAYS say, "yes ma'am," "no ma'am," "yes sir," and "no sir." You learned to always say "please" and "thank you." There's a good chance that you got in trouble if you ever forgot to say those, too. You might have even gotten spanked with a switch you picked in the backyard.

2. Your grandmother makes the best sweet tea.  

Sure, a lot of restaurants do, too, and so does your mom, but there is nothing like your grandmother's sweet tea. She uses way too much sugar, and it is perfect. No one will ever make it as good as she does.

3. Saturdays in the fall are for football.

Morgan Johnson

College football is taken VERY seriously. We love the SEC... except for Clemson fans. But, no matter what team you pull for, you can't go to Williams-Brice and not get chill bumps when "Sandstorm" is played.

4. You never know how to dress for the weather.  

In the morning, it could be 40 degrees outside, so you'll need to dress warm. In the afternoon, it could be well over 80 degrees. Also, don't plan on putting up your summer clothes when it's getting close to winter, or putting up your winter clothes when begins getting warmer outside. It can be 70 degrees in December and 30 degrees in April. Dressing in layers is a skill you master when you live in the South.

5. You complain about Yankees.  

No offense to anyone up north, but you didn't grow up the way we did. You're welcome to come down here as long as you aren't rude. We know we have great warm weather, and we know we don't handle snow very well. We don't need your input. So please, for the sake of everyone, keep your snobby comments to yourself, and learn how to make sweet tea.

6. The sunrises and sunsets are like nothing else.

Morgan Johnson

Sunrises and sunsets are beautiful down here. Whether you're at the beach, driving down the road, or at your house, you will see a picture-perfect sky. Sometimes, it's challenging to drive because it's so bright, but the view is definitely worth it.

7. Sundays call for church, lunch, and a good nap.  

One of the best things in the world is taking a long nap after church on a Sunday. I'm not exaggerating. It's the best. Especially if it starts to rain... I highly recommend.

8. We are super patriotic.

Morgan Johnson

All of the states are red. If you're not a Trump supporter, I promise you, you're outnumbered. We love guns, the military, and America. A lot. We believe in Jesus. We're proud to be American, and nothing will ever change that.

9. There's a church on every other street.  

We have a lot of Southern Baptist churches here. A LOT. There are churches everywhere. On the way to your church, you'll probably pass at least five other churches.

10. People comment on your accent, a lot.  

"Where are you from?"

"Oh, I live in South Carolina."

"I can tell."

This happens anytime you go somewhere.

11. You can't imagine living anywhere else.  

We love it here. We're proud to be from the South and wouldn't have it any other way. Bless your heart if you can't relate. You're missing out.

Living in the South is truly a blessing. Why would you ever want to live anywhere else?

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

To The Girl Who Feels Pressured to Settle Down, Don't

I know how tough it is to face the world but, keep fighting. Don't give up yet.


Hey girl,


Yes, I am talking to you.

The girl who feels like she is carrying the entire burden of the world.

I know how pressured and worried you feel. You are in your late 20s and while it still feels like you are not an adult yet, your friends and cousins settling down says otherwise. I know how lonely and chained you feel, the suffocation and dread that you have to experience every day. You aren't afraid of settling down but you are scared to do it out of family and peer pressure. You aren't afraid of the big commitment but are terrified that you will be forced to choose the wrong life partner for it.

We all have been there. Counting the days till the closest of our friends and relatives get married because, we know. Once they are done, it is going to be our turn. Everyone starts finding the perfect match for you and forces you to meet guys you have never even heard of before. Your skin crawls and stomach churns every time you have to endure one such meeting but, what can you even say? Your parents emotionally blackmail you and your friends getting married doesn't help your case at all.

But, what I am here to tell you is that it is okay to be scared and vulnerable during such times. Just don't settle because you are scared of dissappointing your family or because you are scared to be alone. Hold your head high and work on your life, make it better. And when it is time for you to settle down, you will know.

You will know and you will find the most amazing partner who will make you feel like this is what being safe and home feels like. He will love you whole, with your flaws and your quirks, and he will make you realize why it didn't work out with anyone before. He will make you laugh and cry, curse and stutter, and you will be happy to finally tie the knot with your own prince charming. Once you are ready and it is time, you will meet the perfect guy for you and you won't feel afraid anymore. Settling down won't seem intimidating or like a task anymore.

So, wait. Wait for the moment, the perfect time to settle down. Trust me, you will know when it arrives and everything will fall into place smoothly. Till then, enjoy your life and live to the fullest. Go and travel the world or learn all the new things that you have ever wanted to try. Learn new languages or some exciting adventure sports. Read books and make something out of yourself. Work hard and achieve what you always dreamt of becoming. But most of all, be happy and live your life.

You will have time to grow up later and start your life again with someone. There is absolutely no need to hurry. So, next time your best friend gets married and you don't know what to do with your life, take a deep breath and focus on what you want. Focus on the best parts of your life and don't give up.

Next time your parents force you to meet someone to settle down, learn to say 'No', Because, this is your life and unless you learn to take responsibility for it, you won't ever truly live it.

So, keep fighting and don't keep any regrets. Life is too short to be living on someone else's terms. Fall in love. Get your heart broken. Be strong. Because, there is only so much you can compromise on but love, love shouldn't be one of those things.


The girl who understands

Related Content

Facebook Comments