5 Benefits Of Studying Abroad

5 Benefits Of Studying Abroad

If you're on the fence, this will help you decide.

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University's throughout the United States have many tools and resources to help their students in every way, shape or form. They offer them opportunities that many take for granted, like volunteer jobs, internships and of course studying abroad. Whether you spend a whole year or just a semester abroad you get to learn more about yourself and about the world than you would have ever imagined. As someone who has study abroad myself, I can confidently say that studying abroad has shaped me to be more equipped in my everyday life and in the professional world.

1. It's a great conversation starter.

Just by mentioning that you study abroad, you immediately capture the attention of everyone around you. I have lost count on the amount times that the subject has come up during the conversation, whether it was brought up casually or someone has asked me personally. Studying abroad is not only relatable to others but it is a great icebreaker to get to know someone besides the basic facts that are said in everyday conversation.

2. Expanding your knowledge.

Going abroad teaches you experiences that your campus simply cannot. Regardless of what your interest are, going abroad will give you insights on different cultures and you will grow to not only love and enjoy new interest but it also makes you more appreciative of your culture.

3. Friendships like none other.

One of the things that scared me the most about going abroad was the fact that I was going without any of my friends. A million thoughts were running through my mind, like if I was going to get along with anyone, but it's safe to say that regardless if people go with their friends or not everyone is on the same page, wanting to meet and create new friendships. Now I share this amazing experience with some of the most incredible people I have ever met and because we share the same memories, we will always be connected in a special way.

4. Travel trotter.

Going abroad automatically implies that you will be traveling. A lot. One of the most exciting aspects is going to a new place every weekend and the best part of traveling in Europe is that it is affordable and it can take you to a whole new country in just a couple hours.

5. New experiences of a lifetime.

If you know anyone that has had the opportunity to study abroad then I am sure you have heard them say, endlessly, how much going abroad has changed them. But it is true, going abroad changes people. Not only does it teach you new things but it leads one to want to know more about what the world has to offer.

If you ever get the opportunity to study abroad take it! Once you are there you'll never want to come back. I have never met a single person that has gone and came back saying that they hated it. For many, it may just be the highlight of their college career, but don't just stop there, make the most of it and you'll see how far you can go.

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I Visited The "Shameless" Houses And Here's Why You Shouldn't

Glamorizing a less-than-ideal way to live.
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After five hours of driving, hearing the GPS say "Turn right onto South Homan Avenue" was a blessing. My eyes peeled to the side of the road, viciously looking for what I have been driving so long for, when finally, I see it: the house from Shameless.

Shameless is a hit TV show produced by Showtime. It takes place in modern-day Southside, Chicago. The plot, while straying at times, largely revolves around the Gallagher family and their continual struggle with (extreme) poverty. While a majority of the show is filmed offsite in a studio in Los Angeles, many outside scenes are filmed in Southside and the houses of the Gallagher's and side-characters are very much based on real houses.

We walked down the street, stopped in front of the two houses, took pictures and admired seeing the house in real life. It was a surreal experience and I felt out-of-place like I didn't belong there. As we prepared to leave (and see other spots from the show), a man came strolling down on his bicycle and asked how we were doing.

"Great! How are you?"

It fell silent as the man stopped in front of the Gallagher house, opened the gate, parked his bike and entered his home. We left a donation on his front porch, got back to the car and took off.

As we took the drive to downtown Chicago, something didn't sit right with me. While it was exciting to have this experience, I began to feel a sense of guilt or wrongdoing. After discussing it with my friends, I came to a sudden realization: No one should visit the "Gallagher" house.

The plot largely revolves the Gallagher family and their continual struggle with (extreme) poverty. It represents what Southside is like for so many residents. While TV shows always dramatize reality, I realized coming to this house was an exploitation of their conditions. It's entertaining to see Frank's shenanigans on TV, the emotional roller coasters characters endure and the outlandish things they have to do to survive. I didn't come here to help better their conditions, immerse myself in what their reality is or even for the donation I left: I came here for my entertainment.

Southside, Chicago is notoriously dangerous. The thefts, murders and other crimes committed on the show are not a far-fetched fantasy for many of the residents, it's a brutal reality. It's a scary way to live. Besides the Milkovich home, all the houses typically seen by tourists are occupied by homeowners. It's not a corporation or a small museum -- it's their actual property. I don't know how many visitors these homes get per day, week, month or year. Still, these homeowners have to see frequent visitors at any hour of the day, interfering with their lives. In my view, coming to their homes and taking pictures of them is a silent way of glamorizing the cycle of poverty. It's a silent way of saying we find joy in their almost unlivable conditions.

The conceit of the show is not the issue. TV shows have a way of romanticizing very negative things all the time. The issue at hand is that several visitors are privileged enough to live in a higher quality of life.

I myself experienced the desire and excitement to see the houses. I came for the experience but left with a lesson. I understand that tourism will continue to the homes of these individuals and I am aware that my grievances may not be shared with everyone -- however, I think it's important to take a step back and think about if this were your life. Would you want hundreds, potentially thousands, of people coming to your house? Would you want people to find entertainment in your lifestyle, good and bad?

I understand the experience, excitement, and fun the trip can be. While I recommend skipping the houses altogether and just head downtown, it's most important to remember to be respectful to those very individuals whose lives have been affected so deeply by Shameless.

Cover Image Credit: itsfilmedthere.com

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