Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Triple Threat Post: 10 Reasons To Study Abroad

Chloe explores Washington DC with her new study abroad friends

Ever get the feeling that you're destined for adventure? Well you're not alone! Chloe Johnson of Backpacking Journalist shares her tips on why you SHOULD study abroad:

It’s been almost five years since I plucked up the courage, packed my bags, left New Zealand (and a boyfriend) to embark on a life-changing journey. I’m talking about my incredible opportunity to study abroad at the University of North Carolina Greensboro.

While I cried myself to sleep for the first week thinking I’d never enjoy life in the States a little touch of pride splashed with a dash of curiosity wiped away my tears and introduced me to the time of my life. As I look back, I now realise that you have to have the down times to appreciate the (many) good times when living away from home. Here are 10 reasons why you should wipe away those fears and tears and study abroad:

1. Friends, Friends & More Friends

    It is impossible to be a hermit while studying abroad because social situations and opportunities to meet new people pop up all the time, making you feel like a mini Paris Hilton. Not only will you make friends from all over the world who will be there for you through the fun times, the stressful moments and the homesick days ,but you will always have a place to stay during future travels – bonus!  Surrounding yourself in friendships is the most important thing you can do while studying abroad because no matter how independent or strong you are, we all need human interaction and support networks.

    2. Open the Mind

      The majority of students who study abroad have never lived overseas before and all they know is their home country. They are used to eating the same foods every week, attending familiar sporting events and speaking one language.  The minute you step on that plane you will open your mind and realise there is not just one way of living. It may take you a while to accept the new surroundings, but this is all part of what to expect during the stages of culture shock.

      3. Exploring New Foods

      A country can be well-known just by its delicious foods such as curry in India or crepes in France. Moving to a new country is not just a treat for you but for your tastebuds too. They will have a party tasting a wide range of new and different foods. Expect to screw your face up at some things but expect to crave others on your return home.

      International students mingle outside their new home for the year

      4. Embrace a New Culture 

      Culture is what shapes a nation whether that be through dance, food, people, languages or specific destinations. Soaking up the culture is unavoidable when in a foreign country and sometimes this will knock you on the head with a good dose of culture shock. However, you will eventually fight back to knock it on the head and appreciate your new surroundings.

      5. Learn a New Topic 

      While most universities will require you to take classes in relation to your degree, some schedules will allow a free class where you can study anything you like. This is a great opportunity to take a class you either don’t have in your home town, or one that you would never have considered before. Once again, it’s all about opening your mind to opportunities.

      6. Travel Opportunities  

      Study abroad programme organisers will often arrange weekends away or travel in the school holidays. Always, always jump at these opportunities because they will not only be a great way to bond with people but it’ll be the cheapest travel you ever get. If travel isn’t organised for you, there’s nothing stopping you from gathering a bunch of mates together to go exploring.

      Chloe & her new UNCG friends go camping near North Carolina

      7. Self Development  

      Whether you’re an outgoing, independent spirit or a shy introvert, studying abroad will help tap into your personal development (whether you like it or not). You will be placed in situations where your confidence will be forced to grow, encouraging your self-esteem to follow. Not only will your personality heighten but your skills, your way of thinking and your sense of adventure will receive a facelift too.

       8. Be the Envy of Your Mates Back Home  

      Get ready for Facebook status envy. While your friends will post updates that are as dry as peanut butter on crackers your’s will be dripping with excitement making everyone jealous that they’re not overseas.  Seriously, what could be cooler than studying in a foreign university?

      9. Open windows of opportunity 

       You know the old saying ‘it’s not what you know, it’s who you know.’ Living overseas is an open invitation to meet people brimming with opportunities. It might be as little as the cute checkout chick giving you $1 off your milk to something more serious such as a future job opportunity.  As you settle into your new town your confidence will grow which will lead to more open windows.

      10. A Chance to Appreciate Home  

      I can’t stress enough that moving away from your home country will only result in personal development and pages of opportunities, but the reality is that you will have to return home at some point. You may be at the stage where you wish you could stay on one more year or you may be itching to get back to mum’s cooking. Either way, once you step foot back into your homeland you will start to appreciate all the things you took for granted (even your annoying siblings!)