I know what you’re thinking: “Why would anyone in their right mind want to do that?” While skipping your planned graduation date isn’t actually necessary, you should really consider taking advantage of any opportunity to travel that comes your way.
In my case, I traded in my cap and gown for a suitcase and plane ticket to the Netherlands. By postponing my graduation, I sacrificed walking across the stage alongside some of my closest friends so that I could embark on a once-in-a-lifetime journey. Of course, you can avoid taking the route I did by making the decision to study abroad as soon and as often as you can. I can promise that going abroad will be one of the most life changing experiences you’ll have.
To put it into perspective, after asking over 10 professionals within my career field what they would have done differently in college, all of them answered that they would have studied abroad.
CULTURE SHOCK (IT ROCKS!)
As hard as it can be to imagine the world outside of the United States, there is more out there than you think. Rather than living vicariously through an Instagram photo – wishing you could be that person hiking the Swiss Alps or roaming Paris – see it for yourself. The world can teach you many things and the best way to learn them is to go out there and explore it. Skip Google maps and travel blogs, time to put yourself out there and see what the world has to offer.
CONFIDENCE IS KEY
That thing that you’ve always wanted but can never achieve to the caliber of Beyonce’s. If you think she was just born with it, think again. Beyonce had to learn how to flaunt it and you can too. Experience is by far the quickest way you can do this. Studying abroad will put you on the spot, make you stand out, and force you to implement those Indiana Jones life skills you didn’t know you had. Studying abroad will connect you with people, teach you new ways of life, expose you to cultures you’ve never seen, and take you to the most beautiful places. Exploring requires you to ask lots of questions and to stay curious. You won’t realize it in the moment, but when you come back home, you will realize what a new person you have become with more confidence that the old you. Time to hone in your inner Rihanna and become the globetrotting rockstar that you are.
KNOWLEDGE IS POWER
Yes, you’ll have to learn how the system works again. This means learning a new grading scale, asking lots of questions and getting to know new students. While that could be enough to convince you not to go, consider this: this experience will give you a leg up when you’re trying to get that dream job. Let that interviewer know how you successfully made it through school in a country that isn’t your own. This proves to them that you can succeed in any situation and chances are you’ll get that job you’ve always wanted over that other dude who didn’t follow his traveling dreams (like you).
You will never have an opportunity to get such an enriching experience from traveling again in life. Short term programs have been extensively researched and planned in order to give you the best (and cheapest) experience abroad – better than spending hours at your computer on TripAdvisor looking for the hottest spots on your own. Semester or year long programs will give you an extensive amount of time to explore – more than you would probably be able to afford or plan during school or after your graduate. Make the most of your college years while you still have the freedom – study abroad!
From the moment you become curious to your arrival home, study abroad specialists at your school will help you every step of the way. These godsends practically plan your trip for you and make going abroad feel stress free. They have extensive experience in this area (some having even studied abroad themselves) and know all the right steps to take to make sure you have the best (and safest) trip possible. I can guarantee you won’t find this at any travel agency, so take advantage of your resources.
And more importantly, lasting memories. This is an experience that you’ll cherish forever – proof that you can accomplish anything in life that you put your mind to – because you can! Have the courage to follow your dreams and take that first step. You know what they say: you’ll only regret the opportunities you didn’t take.