Why You Should Study Abroad
I can still remember the day I took off from home, on a plane by myself to Auckland, New Zealand. I had been planning this moment ever since I was in high school, but still, I couldn't get my nerves to settle down. Little did I know this was one of the best decisions I would ever make and one that will change my perception of life.
I noticed two things when I first got out of the airport:
Experiencing heat in the middle of February was the most amazing feeling in the world.
Having a mini panic attack every time the car turned to the "other side" of the road.
But from the moment I stepped out of the airport, my nerves vanished as I took in my new surroundings for the next four months: the warm sun on my face and the calmness of the ocean right at my doorstep. I didn't ever want to leave.
The Studying Part
I was so lucky to have classes only for two days in my entire week. This gave me an amazing balance to be able to study and travel! Where do I even begin to explain my experience at Auckland University of Technology (AUT)? First off, the campus is gorgeous! The whole infrastructure uses as much natural light as possible with glass windows making up most of the surfaces of the building. The campus is designed so you can walk outside and enjoy the air and atmosphere of the school. Even on a rainy day, I loved to sit near the large windows and have lunch by the cafeteria.
Speaking of the cafeteria...
The best sandwiches and desserts that I had, came right from AUT! I still crave the cheesecake and I can't forget those delicious Whittaker's ice cream pops.
I had the most amazing professors who made an effort to learn who I was even though I would only be there for a term. The valuable relationship they built with me, helped ensure I excelled in their course. I felt valued, that my individual learning was important. These courses pushed my learning to a new level and allowed me to explore interests I didn't know I had.
The Meeting New People Part
It can be challenging, coming to a new country by yourself and trying to meet new people. For some, this comes easy, and for others not so much. As an introvert myself, this was the most challenging task for me. I prefer having individual connections, but during exchange, everyone does activities together. This can be overwhelming for someone who enjoys recharging with only a couple of close friends or by themselves. I knew I had to do something to change this if I was going to make the most of my exchange experience. I did it in the way I knew came naturally to me. I connected one-on-one with people. That way, it was less intimidating when I was in a room with a lot of people because I felt like I already knew them.
By the end of exchange, I questioned whether I was truly introverted or not, because I absolutely loved travelling and living with everyone I met from around the world. I recently read a phenomenal book called, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain. I suggest, even if you're not an introvert, to read this book. I learned that if you are passionate about something, an introvert can act like an extrovert and vice versa. My point? I love travelling, having new experiences and meeting new people so I could push myself to be more extroverted because the experience I got out of it, in the end, was rewarding and fulfilling for me.
You will remember the connections you make on exchange forever and will have a lasting friendship for a lifetime. Not to mention, a great excuse to visit another country!
The Travelling Part
You're leaving home, this is your chance to embrace the culture and diversity of another place! Be open to every possibility and adventure that sets itself in front of you during your time abroad. You will learn and be able to grow and make the most out of your once in a lifetime experience.
In all honesty, I learned more from my travel experiences than school ever taught me. In my short time abroad, I made sure I travelled to every place possible, after all, I did only have two days of school! A fun perk of studying abroad is, if you don't like travelling solo, you have a whole campus full of exchange students who are in the same boat as you and will be happy to accompany you on adventures!
There are endless opportunities that will come your way, try them all! Even if you don't like it you'll know for next time. Remember you usually never regret doing something, but always regret not doing something.
Your exchange will be based on what you put into it. So, whatever goals you're looking to accomplish during your time abroad, do your best to achieve them. And of course, don't forget to have fun! I for one, left for my study abroad two years ago, and I still can't stop talking about my experience!
Still need convincing to study abroad? I hope this video seals the deal...
What places are top on your list to study abroad?