College Tourist: Author Nina Truong, Emory University.
Studying abroad in college was one of the best decisions I have ever made.
As the semester is starting to wind down, most people including myself are trying to figure out what to do for the summer. With my senior year coming to an end, for the first time in three years, I won't be doing a summer study abroad program. Even though studying abroad three consecutive summers was a little excessive, I had the time of my life and I encourage almost everyone I meet to study abroad in college at least once. Here are the top ten reasons why you should go abroad:
1. It changes the way you see the world
Before you travel to another country, chances are you already have a preconceived notion of it. Studying abroad will knock down the stereotypes you may have heard about other countries and broaden your perspective on other cultures. After experiencing new things firsthand, your perception changes because you get a deeper understanding of the world.
2. Relate to others by experiencing other cultures first hand
Studying abroad allows you to see how other people live in different countries because you get to live like a local. When I came back to Emory after studying abroad a few times, I was able to relate to different foreign exchange students. I was able to talk to them about their home countries because I've actually been there. If I had not traveled to those countries while I was abroad, I probably wouldn't have been able to relate to them as well.
3. Humbles you
Traveling makes you realize how small you can be in such a big world. Without constant Internet access and data on your phone, you are forced to fully take in your surroundings. I found myself no longer constantly checking my phone because I realized that there is so much to see in the world, which made me more open to trying new things to learn about different cultures.
4. Empowers you
Studying abroad helped me come out of my comfort zone. After my first summer abroad in Italy, I decided to spend a few days in Paris by myself at the young age of 18. Even though I had previously visited the city of lights with my family, that trip was the first time I had ever visited the city alone. Without any knowledge of French and a broken cell phone, I had nothing to rely on except myself. Ever since that solo trip, I have felt like I could take on any challenge because I managed to survive in a foreign city by myself.
5. Personal Growth
After my first time exploring Paris on my own, I started to become more independent. The second time I went abroad, I travelled to new cities on my own because I felt more confident that I would be able to navigate new places by myself. After my first time traveling alone, I knew I could quickly adapt to new cities by looking at maps, understanding directions, and figuring out metro systems. Now, I feel comfortable and even prefer to travel alone because I know that I will be able to do whatever I want at my own pace.
6. Broadens your educational horizons
I wanted to study abroad because I knew that I could learn things that I wouldn't be able to learn from my textbooks or in the classroom back at Emory. My summer at the University of Oxford allowed me to write an art history paper on John Singer Sargent's painting, Ellen Terry as Lady Macbeth that I was able to see in person at the Tate Gallery in London. After writing art history papers on reproductions of artwork, I realized that it is much better to write any paper in general if you get to see things in person. Studying abroad made me realize that I learned so much more by seeing things for myself and that I just don't get the same satisfaction of learning new things by sitting in a classroom or through readings and lectures.
7. Job prospects
Studying abroad can especially come in handy when you're applying for jobs or internships with companies that work with international clients. For example, one of the law firms I have been interviewing with has German clients and my time abroad in Germany caught their attention. My time abroad has allowed me to develop the skill to work with others with different cultural backgrounds, which is essential when applying to work for companies that have a global presence.
8. Expand your worldview and become a global citizen
When you're abroad, you can learn about how the world works by becoming more aware of issues specific to certain countries or problems that apply to more than one country. By going abroad, you get to see how different countries approach their respective issues, which would expand your worldview. From this, you can take your learning experiences and apply them to work collaboratively with others to solve some of the shared societal challenges of the world.
9. Learn a new language
Practice your language skills at the food market, like Markthalle in Berlin.
Prior to my time in Italy and Germany, I didn't know any Italian or German. However, after studying abroad, I managed to learn a few basic phrases in Italian and German to immerse myself more into the culture. If I hadn't studied in these two countries, I probably wouldn't have bothered to learn a few Italian and German expressions. If you already know another language, studying abroad could enhance your language skills. Part of my summer program in Germany required me to travel to Madrid, where I had the opportunity to practice my Spanish. After taking seven years of Spanish, I was excited to finally practice it with native speakers and people surprisingly understood me.
10. Opportunity to travel
When you're abroad, it's easier to travel to other places, whether it's different cities in the country you're in or other bordering countries. Take advantage of the time you spend abroad to explore new places because after graduation, you might not be able to have a lot of time to travel once you get a job or go onto grad school.
While the list of reasons to study abroad in college could go on, hopefully these reasons will convince you to go overseas because you never know when you will get another opportunity to do so!