I’ve always felt I learned more in my one semester studying abroad than I did over the course of the other seven combined.
Although a lot of the lessons I learned couldn’t be found in a textbook — or scientifically verifiable through some formula — they contained a lifetime of relevancy.
It’s true that life starts at the end of your comfort zone, and studying abroad will reinforce this on a daily basis.
The moment you’re thrusted into a place where you might not fully speak the native language or even know you’re way around the city — it’s as if a switch has flipped, and suddenly, you begin to feel your true instincts flare up almost like survival mode.
You don’t get tested like that at your home university. For most American students in 2015, college is a very self-sustainable place.
Your home campus will have a dining hall, one that feeds you three (or as many as you want, really) meals throughout the day. Your school’s library will likely have all the amenities necessary for academic excellence, including tutors on call for you most hours of the day.
For many of us, our parents were never all that far from us — at least not too far to send a care package with our favorite foods from home or that replacement iPhone after our last one “somehow shattered.”
And the reason why college is designed to be so self-sufficient is because colleges don’t want the students’ focus to be on the “other stuff.”
In America, you pay X amount of dollars to attend a school, complete all of the requisites demanded by your particular major and get a diploma. That’s just the purpose of it all.
The same could hardly be said for your semester abroad. When you study abroad, the emphasis is rarely put on a specific education of any type.
I mean, I doubt many parents would endorse the concept of travelling to Barcelona to study calculus when that type of education could be just as easily obtained by completing an online course from the shelter of their own apartment.
See? That’s my point. When you choose to study abroad, you’re doing so for the experience.
In fact, for most students, their study abroad is epitomized by the time spent not studying whatsoever. . . .