Enrich Your Soul By Studying Abroad

Enrich Your Soul By Studying Abroad

"One's destination is never a place, but always a new way of seeing things." --Henry Miller

314
views

During my junior year of high school, you could find me doing one of three things—studying, playing volleyball after school, or visiting college campuses with my mom trying to figure out where I wanted to be during those four amazing years of college.

Being the prepared student that I am and always have been, I had my three go-to questions I always whipped out for our guides. One, what has been your favorite and least favorite about being a student here? Two, what activities have you been involved with as a student? Three, what are the study abroad opportunities like at this university?

Studying abroad has always been on my mind and when I finally saw my chance to go on one, I jumped at this opportunity. My study abroad program is unique in the sense that it was only, unfortunately, one month long, or what we like to call a "Maymester" since it happens during the month of May.

This Maymester studying abroad in Pamplona, Spain has been everything that I expected but at the same time much, much more than I ever could have planned for. When we are given opportunities in life, we must take them and see where the ride takes us. If you are considering doing a study abroad program, don't be afraid to take that little leap of faith. It is worth more than you ever could have imagined possible.

1. You start to feel less like a tourist and more like a local.

This is very difficult when you take a one or two-week vacation to a foreign country. You are most likely staying at a hotel of some sort and doing all those "touristy" things you Googled after you bought your plane ticket. Studying abroad gives you the opportunity to stay with a host family, in a university housing, or some other housing that will give you a cultural experience of living among the locals. After exploring the city and getting settled in, you become accustomed to the way of life and will tell yourself, "I think I could live here one day."

2. You have so much more time to explore the city and country.

I have been fortunate enough to have already traveled outside of the country and visit foreign places, but I have not been away for one month. My professor did an excellent job of designing the trip so we can hit all the main sights and beautiful cities throughout the Maymester while also just staying in town and enjoying dinner among the locals. You can actually relax and take your time without having to constantly look at your watch trying to get from place to place.

3. You foster connections with the faculty and students on your study abroad and also at the university you are studying at.

After lunch every day, people in Spain like to partake in what is called "sobremesa." Instead of eating, talking, and then leaving restaurants, the people in my group will enjoy each other's' company over a cup of hot café con leche after our three-course meal. All study abroad programs are not created equal, but there are many out there that will let you enjoy your meals like the locals do and foster connections between students and faculty on your trip. Man, I sure will miss our sobremesas.

4. You will have an indescribable cultural experience unlike anything possible after graduation.

Once you become an adult, that's game over. Of course, you can still travel whenever you have time, but that's the key…"whenever you have time." The cycle for most of us is that we go to school, we graduate, we get a job, and we work. Every single week, we work. Vacation days for traveling will become difficult to schedule around your travel partners. I cannot stress enough how important it is to have this unique of being in a foreign country for such an extensive period.

5. It's fun, gosh darn it!

Think of the coolest thing you have ever done in your life and it is even cooler than that! It's so cool, that when your friends and family ask you how you're doing over in *insert country here*, you can't even begin to scratch the surface to describe your emotions and day-to-day experiences. If you're worried about juggling classes in a foreign country because classes are hard enough in the U.S., don't be. That is obviously easier said than done, but it is a leap of faith that ultimately teaches you lessons you never knew you needed to be taught and feel emotions you have never felt before.

Cover Image Credit:

Maggie Roth

Popular Right Now

Meet The College Student Who Took A Solo Road Trip Across The United States

With only a cooler, a bag of electronics, and a bag of clothes, Alex Kim embarked on the trip of a lifetime.

1746
views

Not many college students can say that they've taken a road trip across the United States. Even fewer can say that they've gone on that journey alone.

However, Alex Kim can say that within one month, he drove from the east coast to the west coast of the United States by himself. And he made sure to hit all the major attractions on the way.

You name it — the White House, Cloud Gate, the Grand Canyon, Mount Rushmore, and Yosemite — Kim has been to all those places.

Kim is currently a senior at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, majoring in religious studies with a minor in human rights. He plans to attend law school in the fall of 2019. So, he knew that if he wanted to take a trip across the states, the summer of 2018 would be the perfect time.

Courtesy of Alex Kim

I had the opportunity to meet Kim when he briefly stopped by Lawrence, Kansas, near the final stretch of his journey. When he told me about his trip, I was baffled, intrigued, and impressed all at once.

To take a long road trip with friends is one thing, but to take a month-long road trip by himself is an entirely different story.

Kim said he simply wanted to meet people. He had the opportunity to meet other brothers in his fraternity, Pi Alpha Phi, and made quite a few friends (myself included!) on the way. He also visited family friends and people that he knew through Greek life.

Besides meeting people, this trip also consisted mostly of driving an 6-8 hours per day, listening to educational podcasts, and traveling to national parks, monuments, and memorials. He even bought along a burner and pot to cook ramen noodles in the national parks. Kim called these meals his "ramen adventures."

Courtesy of Alex Kim

Kim said this trip was extremely of out of his comfort zone, but it helped that he went alone because he was able to set his own schedules, plan his own routes, and do everything at his own discretion.

When asked about why he decided to go alone, Kim said "Going with someone else means that I will spend way more money than I should… If I went with another person, I also have to cater sleeping accommodations as well."

There were many times where Kim simply slept in his car because he didn't know anyone in the area, or he didn't want to pay for a hotel or Airbnb. But he didn't have to sleep in his car the whole trip. Half the time, he had friends or family members who were willing to house him for a night or so.

In addition, going alone gave Kim a lot of time to reflect on his past and what's to come in his future.

"I can't tell you how many times I thought of what my next chapter of life will be," Kim said.

However, going alone also presented its fair share of obstacles. Some difficulties included bad weather, over exhaustion, too much caffeine, and lack of sleep and nutritious food. One of the biggest problems that he faced was loneliness.

Kim admitted that there were periods of time where he felt extremely lonely. When he knew that he wasn't going to see people for a while, he would call his parents in the morning to tell them where he had been and that he was doing well.

There was one instance where he was first traveling to a national park, Yellowstone Park, and he internally freaked out. For the most part, Kim heard nothing but complete radio silence because there was no reception. Kim said that he felt scared because he wasn't in control of his loneliness.

Aside from those challenges, Kim was glad to say that the road trip went well, and he didn't have any car trouble.

For him, some notable locations were New York City and Los Angeles. Kim didn't really go to L.A. for sightseeing, but rather to pay his respects to an old mentor who passed away. Even though he explored much of nature and national parks, he said that the most breathtaking view was not in fact at a national park, but at a family friend's farm in Harlington, Nebraska.

Courtesy of Alex Kim

"I never thought I would say this, but I really enjoyed the countryside in Nebraska. Being away from the city lights, it was very peaceful and quiet. The sunset was breathtaking," he said.

Overall, Kim approximated that he traveled across the United States for a grand total of 9,700 miles, and despite some challenges, he really enjoyed this trip. He met new and old people and witnessed stunning views that he wouldn't have seen back in North Carolina. As a lone traveler, Kim practiced humility and now sees the world with a fresh perspective.

Kim also learned many lessons along the way and here are six that he shared:

1. Learn to rely on yourself.

2. Sometimes it's good to play it by ear. You'll have the freedom to do so much more.

3. If you can't play it by ear, always have a contingency plan.

4. The people who constantly kept up with you throughout your whole trip are you true friends.

5. Get out of your comfort zone; learn to be versatile.

6. Take time to yourself to reflect on your past, make amends if possible, and plan out your future.

After his trip, Kim returned to North Carolina, taking with him all the experience and lessons he gained from his travels. Nowadays, he keeps busy by studying for the LSAT in September and working towards getting into law school.

But would Kim take this extraordinary road trip again if he could? Most definitely.

See more pictures from his trip below.


Courtesy of Alex Kim

Courtesy of Alex Kim

Courtesy of Alex Kim

Courtesy of Alex Kim

Courtesy of Alex Kim

Courtesy of Alex Kim

Courtesy of Alex Kim

Courtesy of Alex Kim

Courtesy of Alex Kim

All photos here are provided courtesy of Alex Kim.

Related Content

Connect with a generation
of new voices.

We are students, thinkers, influencers, and communities sharing our ideas with the world. Join our platform to create and discover content that actually matters to you.

Learn more Start Creating

3 Podcasts You Should Listen To On Your Next Long Drive

Sometimes it's nice to take a break from Spotify.

8
views

I'm always looking for ways to make use of my time and podcasts get the job done. The next time you have a long travel time, engage your mind with one of these motivating, engaging and thought-provoking podcasts.

1. If you're looking for something inspiring

Click here

2. If you're looking for something intriguing

Click here

3. If you're looking for something absolutely insane

Click here

Related Content

Facebook Comments