If you're going to be starting your freshman year of college or your senior year, it is never too late or too soon to go study abroad. You will for sure enjoy it and is absolutely rewarding. There are times where it will be absolutely nerve-wracking, and also times where you will feel a little left out. There is nothing to worry because, in the end, a study abroad trip turns into a family vacation (with lessons of course).
Take me for example.
Entering my sophomore year of college, I knew I wanted to go abroad, but due to my major, I couldn't leave for an entire semester. However, I was dead set on going somewhere. As the year continued, I was grateful to be able to get into a study abroad trip to Italy. My dream place!
Italy had always been a place I've wanted to go primarily for my family. I had heard how beautiful it was from so many family members so I felt it was vital I experienced it for myself. Not only this, but I went so that I could look at the most ancient cities and art. I wanted to experience the culture, and of course, learn so much that I needed to learn from the places I was going. I was learning vital lessons, lessons you wouldn't normally learn on a family vacation. It's lessons you learn from the people of a country, and from the people just as excited to be on the trip.
And so for months, I was nervous and then I was excited, and for a brief time, I felt like I actually wasn't even going. I felt like it was a dream. A week before the trip I completely forgot I was actually going. I thought it was far into the summer. However, only a couple weeks after the end of my semester I was packing up my suitcase for a trip I was super nervous for. Two days before the flight, I felt like I didn't know anyone going. I was nervous I wasn't going to enjoy the trip like so many people had told me they did. I couldn't believe I would be going on a trip with so many people.
In high school, I went to Ireland with my school's concert band, and although it was abroad, it was completely different. High school had chaperones. High school students weren't as independent. High school students didn't have as much freedom when it came to going around the locations. If you wanted to walk around the city you had to take a chaperone. For this, it was that you shouldn't go alone and should go with a friend.
This study abroad trip to Italy, so also....better. Much, much better. In fact, if I had the opportunity to do it again, I would do it three times over. Walking into the airport doors and seeing half of the group already there, I was more than just excited. I was internally jumping up and down. I was screaming in my head with excitement that I was finally going to experience Italy.
And of course, I didn't feel alone the second I saw the group. And for the next few days. And for the rest of the trip. I felt happy and excited to be getting to know twenty-one, other people. (Or twenty-two if I'm counting the group's awesome guide).
Now how was it to experience and why is it worth it?
To keep it short, everyone wanted to get to know everyone and no one was ever left out of anything. Everyone was always included, no matter what time it was or where anyone was. A group chat kept everyone informed, so if anyone wanted to tag along to anything they were more than willing. People made suggestions on where to go, and where to go for the nightlife.
Our group had one day off in Rome, and half of us felt like we had spent a lot of time in Rome, so instead we decided to take a day trip to Florence and experience that wonderful city. Every single landmark we saw in every single place we went to was appreciated and enjoyed to the highest level. Everything was how it should have been.
And worth it? Of course, it was!
I spoke to people I knew for a fact anywhere else I would be too shy to talk to. I got close to my professors in a way I never would have imaged I would. I laughed with people harder than I had ever laughed before. I came back with amazing memories that were nothing more than positive. The best part was that every single memory had a different person I had met along the trip. I had never stuck to just one person. I branched out. (Which is something that a shy person like me hardly does). I felt like a bit of my shell chipped away on this trip, and made me more open to experiencing life with more people. Experiences wouldn't be experienced without the people involved in them. A family-like environment ends from the beginning of complete strangers. Everyone in this trip walked away with at least one new friend.
Study abroad is an experience where you get to meet new people and see the world. Not only this, but it pertains to the major you are studying and you get college credit for it. It's super easy and super fun. Yes it can be a little bit on the expensive side, but what vacation is? You get to laugh with people you never thought you would laugh with, and share memories with people you never thought you would. It brings you close to your professors where you get to know them more on a personal level and really develop a strong relationship.
Study abroad is for anyone and everyone looking to be flexible and is willing to learn the culture and experiences that are only brought from an entirely different country.
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