Studying abroad doesn’t have to be pipe dream

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If you have ever wanted to take an adventure and see the world, study abroad may be just the thing for you. 

   As a student who has studied abroad, it was an amazing and once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that should be taken advantage of by more students. I pushed myself out of my comfort zone to live in Bremen, Germany, for six months. The first part of my trip was difficult. I was jet-lagged and homesick, and I had to find my way in a foreign country all by myself.

   However, the first awesome thing about studying abroad is you get to see and experience a culture in a more intense way than you likely have before.

   Being immersed in another country’s culture can be intimidating, but it is the best way to learn how people act, think and live in places outside your homeland.

   Things got much better after the jet lag wore off, and I started going to school. I enjoyed walking around the busy city and sitting on the steps of the towering cathedral. The feeling of exploring a new city filled with different customs was a thrill I never got tired of. I enjoyed eating abendbrot, the evening meal most Germans enjoy, composed of bread, sliced vegetables and cold cuts of meat. 

   I took an Introduction to American Government class in Germany, and the things the European students had to say about America were surprising. For instance, the French people in my class, which covered Hollywood films, found racist and classist themes where I didn’t think there were any. They thought the glorification of the upper class was negative and that films should focus more on the middle class.  

   And I quickly learned that Europeans take the events in our government seriously. They also follow the presidential elections closer than I expected. Back in the beginning of 2015, my classmates were asking me which candidate I wanted to win the election.  

   Also, adding a language to the skills on your resume is a plus that makes you stand out and is valuable to potential employers. Learning another language was a challenging and exhilarating part of my German experience. My language teachers in high school always said, and I agree, the best way to learn a language is through complete immersion.

   Graduate schools also like to see study abroad on your resume. This shows you are diverse and you aren’t afraid of new challenges.

   To some, study abroad may seem out of reach, like a crazy dream that is too good to happen to you. The main problem I’ve found is that students worry about the expense and getting behind the four-year graduation time in school.

   Firstly, if you set your mind to something you really want to do, you can do it. Secondly, if you study abroad, you can take classes at the university in your host city. In Germany, there were people to help me figure out the system, and I was able to bring many credits back that transferred to Dixie State University.

   As far as expense goes, it isn’t as bad as one might think. The most expensive part of my study abroad trip to Germany was the cost of the plane ticket, but the cost of living was surprisingly low. A good apartment could be rented for around $275 a month, and the cost of bread was about $1.25.

   All the expense and planning are worth it because of the many things you will take out of a study abroad. The most valuable thing I took out of my study abroad experience was the personal growth.

   By pushing myself to charge outside my comfort zone, I learned I am far more capable than I ever thought I was. Living in another country away from my family and friends was intimidating at times, but I learned to adapt quickly to situations and learned how to actively problem-solve when I reached a hurtle I wasn’t sure I could cross. I navigated a foreign country by myself, and I rocked it. My confidence level shot through the roof from this experience, and the way I look at it is, “If I can do that, is there really anything I can’t do?”

   One day you will have a serious job or maybe be married with children. Now is the time in your life when you can live for yourself and do whatever you want. Now is the time to study abroad before life gets in the way and you have too many obligations to live in a new country.

   The plane ticket may be expensive, but the experience you have during a study abroad is priceless.