It was all so enchanting. The cobblestone streets, beautiful European architecture, foreign accents and food … . It was my first time visiting Europe; London and Madrid, to be exact, and I completely fell in love. It was like nothing I had ever experienced in my life, but it sure changed the way I viewed a lot of things. I suddenly felt I could do anything and everything. Studying abroad changed my life.
When I learned from my Shakespeare professor about an opportunity to enroll in a world literature class that included a study abroad experience in Europe, I decided to apply. The class fulfilled a degree requirement in my multimedia journalism major.
It sounded amazing until I read how expensive studying abroad would be. The price tag was $6,000, including travel costs and tuition. I quickly decided to not to participate due to lack of funds. I’m not going to lie, the prices on the flyer terrified me. I only had a part-time job and thought to myself: “where in the world are you going to get over $6,000 in the next few months? There’s no way!” Then I told myself that there would be other chances.
But the thought of missing out on such a great opportunity kept me awake for several nights. As the application deadline approached, I thought about it constantly. Finally I decided to give it a go. Weeks after turning in my application, I was notified that I had been accepted into the program. Never in my life do I remember being so excited for anything. I sold chocolates, created a “GoFundMe” page and cajoled friends and family for donations. I was able to raise the money.
I know that many students go through a similar thinking process when they consider studying abroad. Some don’t pursue the opportunity for a variety reasons like language barriers, fear, culture shock, the costs – you name it. Little do they know it’s worth it in the end. Below are some pros and cons I personally experienced while studying abroad last summer in a two-week study abroad program in England and Spain. If you’ve ever considered studying abroad, you might want to read on.
You See the World Through a Different Lens
Studying abroad offers you the opportunity to see the world like never before. While abroad: land, food, language and culture, suddenly differ from what you’re normally used to, and that’s okay. Seeing different places and trying new things never hurt anybody. Not to mention, traveling suddenly becomes a must for the rest of your life.
You Become More Independent
While abroad, you’re pretty much on your own. Making your way through a different city, buying your own groceries, and even grabbing a taxi are all things you must do yourself, and often in another language. Although it sounds scary, it really does help you grow as a person and distance yourself from the conveniences you have been accustomed to back home.
You Build Connections
You will meet new people. Whether it’s your tour guide, the man at the train station you asked directions of, or the bartender working at the local pub. It is essential to get out there and make connections with new people. You never know whom you might meet. Not only can you make lifelong friends, but networking will also open doors to countless opportunities such as internships, employment, and relocating in the future. Always remember: don’t hesitate to start a conversation with a stranger!
An Adventure of a Lifetime
It truly is an unforgettable experience and one you will treasure forever. There’s nothing more wonderful than foreign travel and education, especially when both worlds coexist as a Study Abroad opportunity.
There Aren’t Any! Take a risk and get out there. Studying abroad is the perfect opportunity to see what else the world you know and love has to offer. Never be afraid of change, even if it’s for a couple of weeks, months, or a semester. Your fears will not matter when you’re out there having the time of your life. Trust me.
As college students, now is the perfect time to be bold and daring. If you never try, then you’ll never know.
Interested? Visit http://utep.abroadoffice.net/index.html for more information.