For seniors in college in the U.S., studying abroad isn’t really “a thing.” Well, it’s not so much that it’s not “a thing” as much as it is a decision that could impede things like having a fall internship in the States, participating in job interviews and searches face-to-face, and friend groups at the tail end of what might be your last times together.
When is my senior portrait going to get taken?
How am I going to be able to meet with my career advisor?
Am I really about to register for my very last set of classes from across the world?
For me, the answer to all of these things is yes. Yes, I definitely am going to make all of these crucial steps from the last months of my college career exponentially harder by taking what a lot of people will probably see as some type of “slacker vacation” halfway across the world.
And you know what? I am taking a “vacation” as a senior by going abroad.
I am going to do this whether you like it or not, because if I don’t say yes to this, instead I’ll be saying “I wish.” To be fair, I was completely apprehensive about studying abroad senior year from the beginning. The program I am in now, I applied to two other times earlier on in my undergrad career and was rejected due to academic scheduling conflicts. I had plenty of time to have gone before now--it just didn’t work out. As a foreign language major, international study is an integral aspect that I, having studied French since the age of 11, was devastated to have missed out on. I love my major.
Through some persistency (thanks for always answering my e-mails Office of Global Studies!), today I’m in Paris.
I’ve finally accepted that this is my last shot at getting truly immersed in global culture for a prolonged period of time before I’m an adultier adult with responsibilities like a mortgage and children. Sure, maybe I could move here someday, but first I need to see how Paris fits me. I’ve applied so many times for this spot, studied so hard, and dedicated so much of my time and energy inside and out of school to my craft that I deserve to be here.
Part of me is writing this because I’m not thoroughly convinced I should have done this so last minute, and I need to talk myself up to believing that I should. Another part of me is writing this because I’m sure other college seniors or juniors with options to study internationally next fall are on the fence about doing it.
To give you some context: I’m on day 3 of a three and half month trip through 3 European cities. Please don't take my word as absolute law. But me, on day three, right now, I’m already saying just do it. Who cares if the underclassmen look at you funny or you feel old or whatever. You’ll get over it each time you try a new food, visit a historic landmark, or take public transportation in a country where you don’t know the language without getting lost.
Let going abroad at this older age take you out of your comfort zone and bring you somewhere new. The truth of the matter is that after doing only school all of your life up until now, when you graduate and have to work all day instead, that will take you out of your comfort zone, too. Might as well do something extreme to soften the radical blow of that job search, right?
This is just part 1 of a multi-part account of my experiences abroad. A new perspective (and a new story) coming your way every week. Sure, maybe right now I’m looking at things through jet-lagged, over-idealized, optimistic rose colored-lenses, but I won’t hesitate to be frank about my experiences. For better or worse, and at least for me, “I did” is much better than “I wish” when it comes to abroad.