“Why Every College Student Should Study Abroad”
by Dana Covit via MyDomaine
I was an early adopter of the school of adventurous escapism. I read the Harry Potter series ravenously as a child more for the idea of landing somewhere new and exciting than for the magic that lured most of my peers. Later in life, I read Jack Kerouac’s On the Road and pledged, in the way teenagers do, to always lean forward into that “next crazy venture beneath the skies.” So, when I was rounding out my second year in college and the possibility of traveling abroad presented itself, I didn’t hesitate one bit. So off to Buenos Aires, Argentina, I went for six months. And oh man—it’s a good thing I did. Here’s why every single college student should study abroad if they can, from someone who is very thankful to have had the experience.
It’s an incredible chance to see the world.
Having grown up in New Jersey and vacationed at a summer camp not even a mile from my house, I was anxious see it—see it all. Thankfully, studying abroad is a unique opportunity to live somewhere new, no strings attached, and explore the region with minimal responsibilities interfering. Academic requirements vary depending on exchange programs, but many build in three-day weekends to allow for plenty of weekend travel. In my experience, traveling as a post-grad adult is often wedged between stressful periods of work and responsibility. Getting time off is a challenge. Scrounging up the funds and coordinating conflicting schedules isn’t easy. Travel has never been as painless as travel while I was abroad.
My advice for when you’re there? Do it all. Go on that daytime excursion. Drop the money on that plane or train ticket. Squeeze as much out of a whirlwind 24 hours as you can. Every opportunity you have to travel while you are abroad is special and worthwhile.
It’ll extract you from your college comfort zone.
And, well, this is a very good thing. It can be scary to leave the comfort of home—of friends, a city you know well, a routine you’re accustomed to. That’s natural! When I first arrived in Buenos Aires, I was overwhelmed by the pollution in my neighborhood, by the bus schedule, by the language that I thought I knew how to speak. But as far as personal development goes, being surrounded by people who are just like us—from similar backgrounds, with similar belief systems—is stunting. The goal of college is very much to remove us from our comfort zone. Think of studying abroad as doing so tenfold. It’s totally unnerving, but worth it in every way. . . . .