Today I looked through my homepage and I noticed that other than the Bolivia photos…most of my blogs are full of stress. I want to change that today and write about positive things with study abroad.
First of all, there are all kinds of crazy benefits to studying abroad. You can expand your knowledge, perhaps even become fluent, in a language (if you’re not in an English-speaking program), you can fully immerse yourself in a new culture, you can push your limits and get outside of your comfort zone, you can become more appealing to potential employers, you can perhaps discover the country where you want to work post-graduation, etc. I’m not a study abroad expert, however, I am a student who IS studying abroad next semester so that’s pretty much as hands on as it gets.
I know my school (UNC) offers tons and tons of study abroad programs. There’s UNC faculty-led programs in quite a few countries, there’s exchange programs, there’s programs specific to majors (i.e journalism, business, biology, etc.), there’s full semester programs, year-round, summer, even just short service trips over spring break. There’s internships abroad lalalala etc etc etc.
It’s pretty incredible.
Think about it this way: I COULD spend all 8 semesters of college in North Carolina. Or I could take one semester and spend it in Mexico. Granted, it’s a country I’ve been to but I’ve never spent more than 5 days there. I’ve never gotten to travel around and I’ve certainly never gotten the chance to fully immerse myself in the culture before.
I’ll definitely be pushed out of my comfort zone. 1,928 miles away from my family. 1,928 miles away from my dogs (aw =/) and my friends. Over 2,000 miles away from the school I’m used to. But with that I’ll also be over 1,000 miles CLOSER to some of my best friends in the whole world. I’ll be living with a host family who yes, there is a chance that they could be awful, but there’s also a chance they’ll be incredible. And if they’re awful? So what? I can switch host families.
I’ll be in MEXICO. Which I know when people think of Mexico they think drug wars, lords, and cartels. But I’m going to be in one of the safest states of Mexico. I’m not going to Chihuaha or Guerrero or Baja California.
I can eat ridiculously spicy Mexican food all day, every day. I can experience a culture completely unlike my own and I will have to be completely independent while doing it because I’m the ONLY student from my school going.
I’ll meet other international students which will be great because I can establish friendships with people from countries such as Germany, Denmark, and the Czech Republic.
Please tell me what I could experience staying at home in college that would top this? North Carolina is great and UNC is fantastic but I don’t want to practice my English. I don’t want to never meet any new people. I don’t want to graduate as a Global Studies and Spanish double major never having studied abroad. So I’ll miss my friends, my school, my family, and my native language but I can’t wait to jump into this with both feet.