What They Don’t Tell You About Studying Abroad

If you’re reading this article, you’re probably interested in the idea of studying abroad, or at least the idea of learning how to venture into different unknown territories to you

Many students, prior to adventuring abroad, read countless articles that are mostly titled, “What I Learned From Studying Abroad,” or “Why You Need to Study Abroad Today.” You see and read countless bulleted lists containing all of the splendors this new experience will bring: the people you will meet from all around the world, all of the strange food, the incredible sights and the list goes on and on.

Trust me, I probably read every one of those under the sun before I embarked on my journey to England. After living, studying and traveling in England and throughout various parts of Europe, the bulk of what I have learned exceeded those cliché, albeit accurate, bulleted lists of, “What I should learn whilst abroad.”

I have compiled a list of what you experience and learn when studying abroad that most forget to mention within the usual lists.

1. You may end up spending lots of time with Americans

One of the biggest draws for many students who study abroad is the opportunity to form relationships with students from all over the world. While it is definitely possible to meet people from all around the globe in class, clubs or even hostels whilst traveling, it’s very easy to stick close to your fellow international friends.

Although these relationships can grow into incredible, life-long friendships, it takes some effort and gumption to really get to know the locals.

If you really want to experience intercultural immersion, my advice would be to really immerse yourself within the student life. Join a club or go out to a small, local pub and you will be sure to run into someone from your host country.

2. You may come home with a different perspective of America

Claudia Santillon| Photo Courtesy Europe brought many new adventures leaving it feeling like home.

Prior to studying abroad, I knew that I would be learning about other countries and cultures, but what I did not realize is that I would end up learning so much about America in relation to all of these places I ventured to.

Studying abroad is completely eye opening, and it’s refreshing to see America through a European lens, flaws and all. There are certain things you will come to appreciate, but you may also end up discovering American habits, policies, mannerisms or even laws that you may end up questioning.

This new experience has given me a much broader view of the world and has created a global perspective I did not realize I had until I came home.

3. Unfortunately, you will actually have to study

Although this may be laughable advice, it’s so easy to get caught up in all of the excitement and exhaustion that traveling around Europe will most certainly bring.

My advice is to slowly chip away at the readings throughout the semester or start your paper a little sooner than a week before its due date. This is clearly common sense and certainly easier said than done, but it will benefit you immensely in the long run.

The last few weeks of your program should be spent eating croissants and laughing about your travel catastrophes with friends. Speaking from experience, you will certainly thank yourself in the end.

4. The people you meet will be the very best part

Candida Darling-Adams| Photo Courtesy Exploring Liverpool with fellow international students.

If you study abroad in Europe, or anywhere else really, odds are you will get a healthy dose of gorgeous architecture, funny although sometimes terrifying travel catastrophes and more pictures of pastries than any one camera roll should have.

At the end of the day though, the memories that will conjure up any sort of true nostalgia are the ones spent with the people you meet along the way. Oddly enough, the best parts about my studying abroad experience were the people I was able to have genuine conversations with. I had the most mundane conversations with a couple from Australia that I met in Salzburg. I heard a fascinating story of a man from India I met in Prague.

Relationships with people are what make life worth living, and this realization will fill you with a sense of gratitude for the people you’ve met both at home and abroad.

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