Why Studying Abroad Will Change Your Life

In the past four years I've been to nearly 30 countries on three different continents. In less than a month, I will be crossing off another continent and adding at least two more nation's stamps to my passport. I have this uncontrollable itch to see the world - and I can't get it to go away. It wasn't always like this for me - I was comfortable and happy in my little American bubble of an existence which so many millions of people are trapped in. This comfortable bubble can lead to complacency, and before you know it you could go through your entire life without ever knowing anything else.

 Life seemed good enough but I started to get a growing curiosity for what else was out there. I noticed so many people stuck in what seemed like a perpetual rut in life and started to ask myself how I could avoid falling into a rut like that myself. This led me to begin considering going abroad for a semester just to see what I was missing out on. While there were obstacles to going abroad, deep down inside, I knew if I passed on the opportunity to go overseas, that I would regret it for the rest of my life.

Despite the obstacles in my way (which are always there for everyone) I packed up and went on a five month adventure in Europe which opened up my mind to an all new view point on life and set me on a path that I most likely would never have been down had I missed that opportunity. There are always reasons why you shouldn't go - the money, the time and even the fear of the unknown - but these are all minor hurdles in the grand scheme of things. Who really cares if you graduate a semester later than you planned anyways? The hardest part about taking a leap is the first step. There is no price you can put on the experiences you'll have abroad - I know it sounds like a cliche, but it's completely accurate in every sense.

After five months and seven countries later, I was ready to come home. I missed a lot of people and many of the little comforts of home life - like my own bed! Being home was great, and then I started to realize I had changed. Life just wasn't quite as satisfying anymore after experiencing the thrill of exploring a new culture and setting my own two feet on some of the most historically important sites on the planet. I came to find out that there really isn't a feeling that quite compares with waking up in the morning in a foreign country with a new, beautiful city to explore - and that's why I keep going back again and again.

What's the moral of this story? It's simple really - college is the best time of your life to get out and experience the world as you learn more about who you are as a human being and what the world surrounding you is like. Studying abroad is an opportunity to expand your knowledge so much further than what the classroom offers. A semester in another country lets you get immersed into a culture - their way of life, the food the eat and even how they have fun. You also get a lot of free time - in other words, more chances to discover something amazing and fill up your passport. There's a huge world out there just waiting to be explored - go and see it while you have a chance.
Standing on top of an old volcano in Nicaragua in early 2014 

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