Why You Should Study Abroad, As Told By 'The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty'
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Why You Should Study Abroad, As Told By 'The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty'

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Why You Should Study Abroad, As Told By 'The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty'

Deciding to study abroad can be a terrifying leap into the unknown. The time leading up to your departure date is filled with so many mixed emotions and nights spent lying awake wondering what it will be like to travel so far for so long. Nothing can completely prepare you for the venture you are about to embark on, but one movie comes pretty darn close.

I am talking about "the Secret Life of Walter Mitty." As someone who studied abroad in the spring of 2015, I can honestly say this movie should be used as your number one reference for what to expect during your study abroad experience. Of course it is an overly-dramatized product of Hollywood, but it can be a very useful tool during your preparation stage.

For those of you who have not seen this film, GO WATCH IT (or at least watch the trailer here because without it, none of the following will make any sense).

Great! Now that you have at least seen the trailer, we can move on and I can explain why this movie is the best template for your study abroad experience.

In the film, Walter Mitty has been working his desk job and that is about it. Before he lost his father, he planned to backpack around Europe, but when his father passed, he had to get a job to help support his mother and his sister and has been working ever since.

Before you study abroad, you are Walter Mitty. You are so focused on life after college, getting your diploma, getting a job, and making money. We are all guilty of it, myself included. We focus on the result and end up missing out on the journey. We are so caught up in the race to become adults and be financially stable that we forget to take advantage of how flexible our lives are right now.

As twenty somethings, most of us have little to no responsibilities. We have no children relying on us to be the breadwinner, nothing tying us down to where we are at this present time. This is our time to explore and discover the magic in the world.

As the film develops, Walter Mitty begins to hunt down the photographer who took the photograph that got misplaced. He ends up in Iceland, then takes a helicopter to a ship, which takes him to Greenland where he almost gets swept away in a volcanic eruption.

Now, I will take this time to tell you that there is very little chance you will run into any of the dangerous situations that happened in the movie (such as outrunning a cloud of ash as the volcano in the area erupts, or jumping from a helicopter into the ocean). But hey, you never know, I guess. But chances are, your experience will not be that dramatic.

The point is that Walter breaks free and jumps on the first plane away from his dreary life. He takes the plunge. All of you who have applied to study abroad have taken the plunge. You are about to embark on a strange, unpredictable, crazy journey that will take you to amazing places and let you meet incredible people. You are Walter Mitty right now. Embrace it! Embrace the fact that everything will not be organized and neat all the time. Do you know how many times I got lost, or missed a bus, or sat on a bus for 6 hours only to not be 100% sure I got off at the right stop?

This will be an insane, chaotic, and beautiful time for you. You will be overwhelmed, upset, terrified, and stressed beyond belief, but eventually, things will work out.

Towards the end of the movie *****SPOILER ALERT***** Walter finally finds the photographer who took the original shot and discovers, the negative has been inside the wallet the photographer gifted to him, the entire time. (He thought it would be poetic). That isn't the point though. The point is that in the scene where Walter is talking to Sean (the photographer), Sean has the opportunity to take a picture of a rare "ghost cat," but chooses not to. He simply says, "Sometimes I don't take the shot [...] I just leave the moment for myself and enjoy it fully."

And that is the final lesson of the film, the main theme is to live your life in the moment and just enjoy it. Find those moments that take your breath away or take those opportunities that will give you a story to tell. Study abroad will be that opportunity.

Yes, it will provide you with stressful encounters and frustrations beyond belief, as is completely normal, but it will also bring inexplicable happiness and peace. You may find yourself on top of the French Alps, as I did, experiencing complete serenity during the silence of a light snowfall. It is in these moments that we find the true meaning of life.

When Walter returns to his life in New York, he is a changed man, and you will be too. Like Walter, you will have made memories and taken chances that will change you. It will give you a new perspective on your life and what you should be doing with it. Even though Walter returns to no job and has no idea what he will be doing next, he now has the confidence and perspective to face it head-on and tackle any challenge that comes his way.

So, go forth, my Walter Mitty's! Watch the "Secret Life of Walter Mitty" (if you have not or watch it again) and prepare for the adventure that awaits you.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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