Ah, to study abroad. The experience that causes student travelers to return home exclaiming grand clichés: “I will never be the same again,” “If someone had told me that this would’ve happened to me, I would’ve never believed him,” “It was tough but it was worth it.” Yet, they hold truth and evoke a certain type of wonder in the minds of those back home, who may develop a dreamy or skeptical perspective on the idea of studying abroad.
The experience varies greatly depending on location, duration, motivation, as well as one’s personality, but one thing is certain to happen: study abroad will expand your horizons. It will broaden your mind the moment you take in the new environment. This will happen whether you seek it or not because you will inevitably face new situations and discover foreign ideas that will demand some effort to be taken in.
They may go against something substantial you were told back home your entire life, or they may cause you to realize something no one had ever brought to your attention. So, for better or for worse (we always hope for better), you will return home changed, contemplating new ideas and viewing the world through a perspective that may seem foreign and out of place at first, but that will, in the long run, find a way to fit the context of life back home.
Or not. In which case, you may spend your time longing to return to the foreign country, wondering how people back home can live in such a way, hold such crazy ideas, or put up with such a boring life. You may find a way to move there, and build an entirely new life, or you may end up stuck back home, inspired to effect change there.
The point is, study abroad can lead you straight back home, or it can bounce you off in different directions, awakening you to a certain desire that didn’t exist before you left your comfort zone. The magic is that, regardless of what path you take, study abroad will “a-broaden” your horizons, and what could be more exciting than one day waking up and learning something you would’ve never otherwise found out about in life? (And we’re back to the clichés!)
I hope you’ll join me this semester in a journey to better understand the appeal, gains and losses of study abroad.