It’s 8am and your alarm goes off. It’s Monday again and that means back to the same old classes. It means hours of lectures and death by PowerPoint and if you’re anything like me, you’re doing it all hungover. You walk through the halls of your University and see pictures of amazing and exotic places on the walls. In your major’s department you might even see people doing what you love or working in your future dream job in these foreign lands. You open your textbook at home and there it is again, a wealth of eye drawing photos from around the world, but there you are, in the same old rut wishing you could spend even just a brief time in one of these pictures you keep seeing.
Well, I don’t recommend you drop out of school to travel the world like me. It’s not for everyone and education is very important. What I do recommend is that every college student take the opportunity to study abroad sometime in their four year schooling. I learned more in 3 weeks abroad then I had the entire previous semester and the memories I gained are still vivid to this day even as I can’t remember the names of most of my teachers and classmates.
All Universities have a multitude of Study Abroad programs. It shouldn’t be difficult to find one directly relevant to your major but if you can’t, I still highly recommend you pick the closest one or even just the one that sounds the most interesting to you.
Below are just my personal top 3 reasons I urge you to study abroad at least once.
You will learn so much more abroad then you ever will in a classroom. When I studied abroad in Belize I was a Marine Biology major. The semester before I took Biology and Chemistry. Although I was interested in Science, the classes were incredibly dull and it took everything I had to power through to the end. I assure you, this was not the case with Belize. From day one I was immersed in the experience. We had some reading and some lectures but the reading was done in a hammock and the lectures were done in the classroom seen above with a couple of local brews in hand. Other than that, we were constantly in the water or in the jungle identifying species, observing their behavior and then sitting back at the bar talking about our finds and learning more from our professor through regular conversation. It’s one thing to read a book about coral reefs and take a test. It’s something entirely different to sit there for hours watching this beautiful and complex ecosystem do its thing.
One of the things we strive to do here at Fearless Trek is to inspire you to leave that comfort zone and go on crazy adventures. Studying Abroad forced me to get SCUBA Certified and allowed me to experience a face to face encounter with a roughly 14ft hammerhead shark. It showed me that places aren’t nearly as dangerous as the media would like you to believe and because of this I visited and had lunch with a local Mayan family in the house they built with their own hands. I got to see so many amazing creatures, engulf myself in a unique culture’s food and drink, and explore the ruins of an ancient Mayan city all in just 3 weeks. Trust me when I say, the adventure of studying abroad will get you out of any rut you may be in.
For the first time in my life I was overseas alone. I was surrounded by different people with different ideas and with a lot less than I had back home. This experience allowed me to gain new perspectives on the world and truly see things in a different manner. I also gained a higher level of independence and confidence that I brought back home with me. I have talked to many other people about their experience studying abroad and they all say pretty much the same thing. It was a great experience that had a real impact on their lives and they still draw from that experience today. Because of that, studying abroad looks great on resumes and applications to graduate programs and overall just makes you a more interesting person.
The in the moment experience isn’t the only time you will learn new things and develop new skills. There is a lot of planning that goes into studying abroad and it does cost money. I for one am not born into anything. My trip was roughly $5,000 extra that I needed to come up with on top of school and living. So I got creative. I got a part time job and learned how to save money better and applied for various scholarships. I had to get vaccines and a passport of course as well as my SCUBA certification. All these things have directly carried over into my new career which has been awesome but of course I work in the travel business so it makes sense. Still though, the preparation you put in will hone certain skills related in general to responsibility that will help you with the rest of your time in school as well as any other facet of your life from your career to raising a family.
So what are you waiting for!? Get out there and start exploring!