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

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9 Things That Happen When A Walt Disney World Cast Member Visits Disneyland

I traveled from the most magical place on earth to the happiest place on earth.


As a cast member, you can get free entry to the Disney theme parks. So why not make use of your tickets to head over to Disneyland to see where all the magic originated?

1. Freak out about the history.

Walt Disney LITERALLY walked these grounds. Not that you're freaking out or anything, but you are. Let's talk about Main Street, Sleeping Beauty Castle, Pirates of the Caribbean, and more. Walt Disney literally had a hand in all of it. This is the original park where all the magic was designed and created and you can't help but geek out.

2. Compare the attractions.

They're the same, but they are also different. Let's talk about the facade of The Haunted Mansion. Loving it in New Orleans Square! Thunder Mountain: the same but mirror opposites. Space Mountain you have a riding buddy, but on Splash Mountain you don't. As a Cast Member, you notice all these small differences and can't help but geek out a little when you notice things you like better.

3. Admire the costumes.

They're SO CUTE! When you get used to seeing and wearing the same costumes all the time it is really cool to freak out over the new and unseen ones from a new land.

4. Appreciate the additional discounts.

Food. All the food. I feel like a VIP with all these food discounts!

5. Run back and forth between the parks...because you CAN!

You can get from California Adventure to Disneyland in about one minute! It's so close! What a dream! No busses, no monorail. It's just so convenient! You can hop back and forth all day without losing much time at all!

6. New Orleans Square.

Let's talk about how cool this land is! Walt Disney World is TRUELY missing out here. Without a doubt this is my favorite land in all of the Disney theme parks! I love that the Haunted Mansion is here. I LOVE the Mickey shaped beignets. The shopping is super cute. And you cannot forget about the Blue Bayou inside Pirates of the Caribbean.

7. Test Track<<Radiator Springs Racers.

Beth Monnig

There's literally no contest here. After riding Radiator Springs Racers you'll never care about riding Test Track again. The story is just so immersive on Racers. And you actually are racing someone. It's so cute you could just ride over and over again.

8. Suddenly discover that Disney World is massive in comparison.

Walt Disney World is SO BIG! It really is its own world in comparison to Disneyland. Also, let's talk about the fact that Disneyland is literally right in the middle of LA. There has to be something said for the fact that Walt Disney World is all on its own. The experience is a bit more immersive in that way in Florida.

9. Plan your next trip back.

Beth Monnig

Seriously though. The trip is just so short, even when you spend a couple of days at Disneyland. Despite its smaller size, there is still so much to see and do that you feel like your trip is inevitably too short no matter how long your stay is. The only thing to do is brainstorm to start planning your next trip out!

Walt Disney World will always be home, but as a Disney Cast Member, it's always good to go back to the place where the magic originated.

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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

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