Traveling and exploring other countries is good for your growth
I always knew I wanted to study abroad. To many people, the thought of studying abroad is terrifying. I was one of them I will admit. As someone who graduated in a class of 12 and grew up in a town with a population of about 100 (on a good day), I was absolutely terrified of going out into the big old world alone.
I come from a tiny little fishing village called Waskish, on the shores of Red Lake in northern Minnesota. Most of the population up there are retired folks or farmers who have lived there for generations.
Hearing stories from my older, more seasoned neighbors about how they had gone out into the world and explored when they were young is what really drove me to study abroad.
While the retired folk’s adventurous days had already come and gone, I knew mine hadn’t even begun yet. I was excited to begin college because I also knew that there would be so many opportunities waiting for me, and I was determined to grab every one of them.
Just over winter break I had the amazing opportunity to study abroad in London, England and Edinburgh, Scotland through a two-week Criminal Justice study abroad tour. When I first saw a poster in the hallway during my freshman year, I kind of laughed to myself and said, “It’s a nice dream, but I could never afford it.”
I grabbed a poster anyways, then marched myself down to the financial aid office to see if it was even a possibility.
I then found out that depending on your financial aid package, you can take out loans to cover it and that there are numerous scholarships specifically for study abroad. (Yes, I know filling out scholarship applications isn’t fun, but writing a 250-word essay to earn 1,500 dollars really isn’t asking much).
With the finances part figured out, all I had to do was go for it. Yes, I was terrified, but I also knew that it was just something I had to do in life.
The best part about studying abroad is the very reason it scares many; because it takes you outside of your comfort zone.
Thankfully, in England and Scotland they speak English. Even without a language barrier there were definitely a few cultural barriers. This can be intimidating, but going outside of your comfort zone is also what teaches you social skills that make you valuable to any potential employer.
Telling an employer you studied abroad means you know how to interact with people from all different walks of life, and that you can remain calm and composed in what can be a confusing and foreign situation.
My best advice to anyone looking to study abroad is to do your research!
I did procrastinate on doing this, so a lot of my research was done via quiz trivia on the little airplane TV while flying Delta. That helpful trivia quiz saved me quite a few times while eating out and wondering if or how much I should tip.
It also gave me more background on a few of the iconic landmarks I was about to see, and it included helpful directions on where to buy an electrical adapter once I got off the plane.
The one regret I have is not being educated on my history and current events of the country, so read, read, read!
You will max out at least one credit card, gain at least six pounds, get lost in a strange city and have to ask for directions because your data connection isn’t great, and you’ll likely have to buy an extra suitcase for all your souvenirs, but it is definitely worth it.
I strongly recommend that everyone should study abroad. You learn so much about history, the world and people around you, and mostly you learn a lot about yourself.
So get out there and explore while you’re young and ambitious!