When in your life will you have the opportunity to live in a foreign country, to explore a new part of the world, not as a tourist? The answer is right now.
The University of Oklahoma has many great study abroad programs with helpful advisors to assist you in planning your adventure. Here are just a few reasons why you should step outside of your comfort zone and your country:
Change your view on the world in a positive way. Experiencing another culture has a powerful impact. Since I have been away I have gained understanding and appreciation for the food, language, beliefs and general way of life of Spain. America is not the center of the universe and our way isn’t the only way. Shocking, I know.
Shake up your routine. Studying abroad breaks up the monotonous four-year undergrad routine. This means unfamiliar scenery, new means of transportation, a completely different campus feel and new friendships to form.
The ease of travel within Europe. The opportunities for travel throughout Europe are exceptional. Hop on a train to Paris or snag a quick flight to Prague, it’s way more affordable than you’d imagine. Traveling country to country on the weekends is expected. In fact, my program only holds class four days of the week to allow for travel and two trips are included in the overall program fee.
Practice a foreign language in the country of its origin. Being immersed in a culture that speaks the language that you are learning is the best way to learn. But don’t be intimidated by the language barrier as you’ll find English speakers all over the world.
Now for the tricky part – deciding when to go. This was difficult for me, as there are pros and cons to each time frame.
Summer. This is the time when most students decide to study abroad so it’s more likely that you’ll be traveling with people you know. Summer sessions usually run from four to six weeks, so it's not as big of a commitment. You can even convince a few friends to join you. The best part about studying abroad in the summer is the ideal weather. Arezzo, Italy averages 71 degrees in July. As for the negative aspects of summer travel, you’re likely missing a relaxing summer at home with family, a beneficial internship or a paid job.
Fall. If you commit to studying abroad in the fall, you’ll miss out on OU football season and CAC events such as Howdy Week, Homecoming, U-Sing and Dad’s Day, to name a few. However, fewer students study abroad in the fall, so if money is a large factor for you it might be easier to sublease your apartment or rental home in the fall to someone who is studying abroad in the spring.
Spring. If you decide to take the plunge in the spring, you’ll be skipping out on the infamous crush spring date parties and CAC events like Winter Welcome Week, Soonerthon, Big Event, Relay for Life and Scandals. You might miss spring break with your pledge class, but you’ll get a memorable one abroad.
If it seems like you’d be missing out on a lot by studying abroad in the spring or in the fall, just remember – it’s Japan, it’s France, it’s Chile, it’s practically wherever you want it to be. It’s the opportunity of a lifetime for a longer period of time. Don’t worry, Norman will anxiously await your return.