1. You will have the time of your life when you study abroad, seriously.
Your study abroad trip is a time for adventure and new experiences. You will constantly be on the go discovering new places and more importantly, new things about yourself. Memories as simple as morning runs in Panama and as extravagant as hiking the tallest mountain in Seoraksan National Park, SK float through my mind every day. Your time abroad will forever be rose-colored looking back. When I look through my study abroad pictures I am flooded with memories of the fast paced, crazy life I experienced.
2. You will be put out of your comfort zone and grow.
You will likely study abroad in a place with a language you don’t speak and a culture completely different from yours. Everything you do becomes a little challenge. Wednesdays become $1 tequila shot night and Fridays become travel days where you hop on a bus/train and explore for the weekend. You will eventually get by with the language and actually know what you’re ordering. My first day in South Korea I went to the grocery store with a student from my home university. While leaving, a little Korean woman frustratedly asked him to pick her baby up out of the grocery cart because she was too tired to do it herself (all with hand motions and frustrated sighs). We laughed hysterically because that would never happen in the US as no one wants strangers touching their children.
3. When you study abroad, you experience and assimilate into a new culture.
There is something empowering knowing you are thousands of miles from anyone that knows you. It’s as if you can finally exhale and decide who you are again. Before you know it you are using the slang terms, eating local cuisine and not bothered by 8:30 meaning 9:30. Different cultures have totally different outlooks on the world and ways of interpreting a situation. Coming from the USA where most desire the “American dream”, it’s shocking to live in a place where people are fed different news on the world and have completely different mentalities on success and happiness. In Panama I’ve noticed people are more lighthearted and free spirited; they don’t rush and they dance freely! In South Korea status is everything and getting a great job is the meaning of life for most in Seoul.
4. You will build lifelong memories and friendships
Study abroad is the perfect environment to build lasting friendships as everyone is experiencing this new strange place together. If you luck out and get amazing roommates, even better! Your new friends will be your support system and your partners in crime. You will trek to new cities, go to beer festivals, party all night in outrageous clubs and help each other just barely pass classes! I was fortunate enough to have friends just as adventurous as I am both times I studied abroad and there is nothing we didn’t do. In fact, once I found a friend group I mainly spent all 4 months with the same people and it was fantastic! I cherish every friend I’ve made abroad and maintain the friendships 5 years later 🙂
5. You will realize there are places on Earth where the quality of life is just as good as the US (or your home country) or even better!
This may not resonate with everyone, but leaving the US and realizing that life in other countries can be just as free and beautiful as home, or even better, blew my mind! I finally got to learn from history books and teachers that weren’t spoon fed in the US and had a totally different perspective on the American Empire. It’s pretty earth-shattering learning about your world from a whole new perspective and realizing that many things you’ve been taught are untrue. Keep an open mind and see for yourself!
6. You get to be the badass that traveled the world for school and came home humbler, wiser and more confident.
If I’m being honest, it’s an amazing feeling telling your friends that you’re moving to a different country for 4 months and hearing their reactions. I seriously felt awesome during study abroad because I was posting all these wild pictures of exotic locations with a beer in hand and friends back home were sitting through boring classes. Once you come back from your semester, it is ALL you will talk about for at least a year. Your friends and family will want to gag you after hearing about all the amazing times you had in [country].
7. After you study abroad, you will never be the same.
I remember about a year after my first semester abroad I was talking to my sister about Panama and how I believe I became myself there and she responded ” You are a completely different person since leaving for Panama” and I felt so surprised because I thought I was the only one who noticed. Don’t be afraid to step out or try something crazy, you may surprise yourself! The opportunity to travel and learn is such a beautiful experience and you will not regret it!