Five months ago today, I was boarding a flight to the Emerald Isle, filled with anticipation, nerves, and excitement. Would I like the food? Would I get along with the 13 other students traveling with me? Did I pack the right things? These questions swirled around in my head as our plane left American soil and soared towards Ireland.
Studying abroad has been a dream of mine since I was researching universities in high school. When I discovered that Belmont offered “Maymesters,” month-long trips during the month of May, I knew this was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up. It didn’t take me long to decide on Ireland, and from there, I just had to wait patiently for May to come.
Going abroad is one of the most rewarding things I have ever done. There is nothing quite like experiencing another’s culture: studying their economy, eating all of their different foods, and listening to their traditional music. If you’re debating signing up for a study abroad trip, I’ve listed just a few reasons why I think you definitely should:
You can only do this in college.
Sure, you can travel abroad at any time. However, traveling abroad with other students, sitting in classes with students from all over the world, and learning from professors from different cultures – you can only do this during your four years of college. Also, this is the only time you’ll be abroad and probably be receiving some kind of financial help. So yeah, that’s a big one.
It looks great on a résumé.
I cannot emphasize this enough!! So many employers are beginning to look for graduates that studied abroad because they represent well-rounded, open-minded people who take initiative. Think about that awkward job interview that you’ll be sitting in one day. Instead of rambling on about that marketing class you took sophomore year or that terribly boring internship you had one summer, you can talk about your wildly exciting life abroad. If you don’t believe me, check out this article from CNN Travel.
You’ll knock some classes out of the way.
When I went abroad, even just for a month, I knocked out 9 credit hours. If you go for a whole semester, you can get way more than that! It’s a great time to take some of those general education classes that aren’t too strenuous but are required to graduate. For example, I took Third Year Writing and Junior Religion Cornerstone while I was in Ireland. You can also take some classes specific to the country you’re in to learn even more about the place you’re exploring. One of my classes was Entrepreneurship in Ireland. It’s fascinating to learn about this from experts actually in the country.
You’ll make global friendships.
This is probably my favorite advantage. Not only do you get to bond with the group of American students with you, but you also get to meet students from all over the world. There’s just something about travel that really bonds people together, and going abroad is a great way to do that. Some of my favorite memories from Ireland are simply sharing a plate of fish and chips with my classmates or attempting to Irish dance together in a pub. It doesn’t have to be extravagant – relationships like this will form in a moment and last forever.
You’ll gain a new perspective on the world.
Studying abroad is truly life changing because of the way it alters your view of the world. Oftentimes, we discuss other places in the world as if they’re just that – places. We lose sight of the fact that there are real people, living their daily lives just like us, on that soil. Studying abroad allows you to open your mind to other cultures, viewpoints, and perspectives in life, and that is truly the most invaluable benefit.
So what are you waiting for?! Stop what you’re doing and head to your university’s study abroad office today. Don’t let the fear of the unknown stop you from experiencing the most incredible experience of your life!