This article was written by our Everly Mag intern, Bridget.
If you are considering studying abroad during your college years and have the means to do so, I would definitely suggest it. College is the perfect time to travel where it won’t be interfering with work and you won’t be spending an exorbitant amount of money. I studied abroad my first semester of my junior year in Copenhagen and I’ve missed it every day since. Here are five reasons why choosing to study abroad was the best decision I have ever made in my life.
It Helps You Grow as an Independent Individual
Going to college is a huge step in becoming an independent person, since for many of us it is the first time we are not living under our parent’s roof. Abroad however, is even one step further in this route to independence. Your parents and close friends might not be a phone call or a quick car ride away when you are abroad, but that’s what makes it such a good learning experience. You likely will not have as many of the resources that you have at your school at home, so you will have to learn to figure out things such as healthcare, meals, laundry, transportation, and more on your own. (Don’t worry though, there will be other students as well as program leaders who can help you if you are really stuck). This also might be the first time you will have to figure out planning trips, finding places to stay and booking flights all on your own. Even though these new responsibilities might seem overwhelming at first, it will result in you bringing back integral skills and preparing you for adulthood after college.
You Get to Experience a Whole New Culture
Being thrust into a country with a completely different culture and perhaps even a language barrier might sound extremely intimidating. When I first arrived in Denmark, I was overwhelmed by the idea of interacting with people who spoke to me in a language that seemed so impossible to learn, as well as trying to navigate and take public transportation when I could not even read signs. The truth is though, I got the hang of it pretty quickly. Learning about the cultural norms, the political and economic structure and the history of a whole different country not only taught me so much about the world around me, but also forced me to question and discuss a lot of the norms and structures I had been so accustomed to in the United States. So not only does studying abroad teach you about the new places you visit, but it also teaches you about your own country in a way you have maybe never looked at it.
The Classes are Interesting
Contrary to popular belief, studying abroad does actually include studying. However, you are guaranteed to be entertained because, study abroad programs, whether they are affiliated with a local university or if they are outside programs, offer a wide variety of classes that can vary from your home institution. It is very nice to get a break from taking classes at the same place every semester with the same people and teachers. I personally only took classes that were not offered at my home school, and I was so happy that I did. Even if they were similar topics to ones that exist in your home institution, because you are immersed in a different culture, and some of your teachers might be native to this culture, the class is going to be taught in a different way. For instance, all of my abroad classes were much more discussion based than my home institution. We also learned very unique material that applied to the Danish culture as my teachers were all Danish, and we had different relationships with our teachers that we do in the US. It was so interesting to come back to the US for the second semester with a brand new perspective on so many topics.
It Pushes You Outside of Your Comfort Zone
Along with exploring a new culture, you are guaranteed to be pushed outside of your comfort zone. For one, you have the opportunity to try completely new foods native to the places you visit. I tried a multitude of new foods while I was abroad, and I came back with so many new favorite foods I never thought I would like- such as falafel and beets. Locals often encouraged me to try things that I would not pick out myself. I am normally a pretty picky eater, yet I pushed myself to try pickled herring, pigeon, reindeer, and so much more while abroad. Even though I was not the biggest fan of many of these cultural dishes, I was glad I got to experience important customs of the countries I visited. You will also get the opportunity to engage in other risks such as doing adventurous activities. For instance, I know so many people that decided to go bungee jumping or skydiving while abroad, which is something they were not considering in the US. Even simple acts can push you outside your comfort zone in a positive way, such as learning to bike in the busy bike traffic of Copenhagen, jumping into a foreign ocean, or even trying to speak a different language.
It is Worth the Money
A lot of times, study abroad programs are actually cheaper or the same price as tuition for a normal semester. I personally know that my program had a cheaper tuition than my US school for the semester and it included a meal stipend, two amazing class trips with meals at fancy restaurants, and a free public transportation card for the entire semester. While I did find myself spending a lot of money abroad- because I took advantage of traveling to other European countries most weekends, it was well worth it for me. Staying in hostels and traveling on budget airlines helped me to stick to a budget I set for myself in the beginning of the semester. Even though my wallet still has some recovering to do after abroad, the memories I have and the places I was able to see were well worth it.
I was initially hesitant about studying abroad, because I did not want to miss out on a semester of college at home with my friends. Even though I was anxious going into it, especially not knowing anyone, I am forever grateful that I boarded that plane. I made amazing friendships, explored magical cities, tried so many new things and formed the best memories of my life in my semester abroad. I encourage everyone who loves to travel to look into it!
If you could study abroad in any country, which would you choose? Comment below!
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