Study abroad is not just for rich kids, bohemian “free spirits”, Power Rangers, or the brave — it’s for people like you. Study abroad is one of the coolest experiences in your life and no matter what your barriers are, there’s a way around them. Here are ten reasons why you should study abroad!
1) It will change your life
You don’t know just how much you’re a product of your culture until you get outside of it. Many things we think of as “normal” are actually cultural. Study abroad will open up your mind and your perspective on the world.
2) It’s a great introduction to travel
Study abroad is basically a program where people hold your hand and walk you into the big wide world. Travel will be so much easier for the rest of your life if you learn how to do it now. There is literally no easier time to travel than this, and when you’re older, people won’t be looking out for you like they will when you’re in college. Take advantage of that!
3) It’s more affordable than you think
In fact, depending on the program you go to, you might even save money. I know at my college, Indiana University, there’s a study abroad program in Budapest that costs less than a semester at IU. I got scholarships to cover my study abroad in China and only ended up paying what a regular semester would cost.
4) It’s your best opportunity to experience a new culture
Even if you travel later in life, you probably won’t stay overseas for six months or a year and really get immersed in a culture like you would while studying abroad. Travel is awesome but actually getting to live somewhere and feeling like you belong is a whole different experience.
5) You’ll grow as a person
Personal growth is good! You’ll learn so much about yourself and the world that you just couldn’t at home.
6) You’ll try new things
You’ll eat new food, listen to new music, and learn about all kinds of things you didn’t even know you liked.
7) You’ll make friends you’ll have for the rest of your life
You’ll meet some of the coolest people in your life while traveling. I’m still friends with a girl I met on a train in Vietnam during my study abroad (hi, Sarah!). My brother made friends from all over the world while in Amsterdam and has since gone to visit a friend in Peru. How many people do you know from Peru? (Unless you’re from Peru yourself, then you know lots.)
8) You’ll build confidence
Getting away from your family and everyone who knows you (and all the expectations that come along with that) can be so freeing. It’s an opportunity to really be yourself and become confident in who you are.
9) You’ll learn you can do just about anything
Study abroad means you’ll tackle all types of new challenges and learn what you’re really capable of. If something goes wrong and you get lost in a foreign city, you aren’t just going to lay down and die and you can’t call your mom for help. You’re just gonna figure it out because you have to.
10) You might meet the love of your life!
My girlfriend is a Swedish exchange student and her mom was sure that she’d go to America, fall in love, and never come home. I guess she was right! Who knows, maybe the love of your life is waiting for you on the other side of the world?
Have you studied abroad or do you plan to? Why or why not? Let me know @erikaheidewald!