Why every college student should study abroad at least once

It’s the most life-changing experience of undergrad

Growing up I was often told “College will be the best time of your life.” So far, this statement has proven to be exceptionally true. No one could have prepared me for the life-changing experience I was lucky enough to have.

Studying abroad pushes students outside of their comfort zones and into a new way of thinking—this is why you should do it.

Going abroad builds independence and freedom

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The experience of studying abroad undeniably promotes living in the moment and encourages us to explore the world. Instead of living vicariously through people we follow on Instagram, we get the chance to experience faraway places ourselves. Our generation needs to take advantage of the sense of freedom and independence traveling builds.

I had never been so far away from my parents and friends in Toledo before. My flight from Columbus to San Francisco marked the beginning of a gradual departure outside of my comfort zone. Everything began to sink in during the 15 hour flight to our first stop: New Zealand.

You can learn a thing or two by stepping outside of your comfort zone

Experiencing unfamiliar places, cultures, and ideals firsthand enables us to truly grow as people. Studying abroad places students into uncertain and rather shocking scenarios, allowing them to uncover capabilites they didn't know they had.

This realization hit me the moment I stepped outside the airport in the quaint city of Dunedin located in New Zealand's South Island. The rolling hills, vast green fields, exotic plants and endless amounts of sheep surrounding me made me feel as if I was on another planet.

It's exciting to learn in a new setting

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The primary purpose of studying abroad is to learn, regardless of academic focus, and for me it was sustainability and human interactions on the environment through eco-tourism. It's important to learn from a perspective different than the one we're used to in the US.

In my case, these perspectives were introduced by our guides, 80-year-old Dave and his counterpart Murray. They were the perfect pair to ease us into this journey of learning and introduce the group to knowledge we could not have been taught in a traditional classroom setting in the states.

Experiencing new perspectives outside of the classroom

Studying abroad is an immersive experience. It fosters intellectual and personal growth during the time we need it most. In my case, this immersion was accomplished through seeing and learning about an assortment of geologically diverse regions.

During the bus rides we saw mountains, coastlines, fjords and sounds. The trip included hikes, ziplining across beautiful valleys, kayaking at Abel Tasman, chatting with locals and tourists from Europe and more. These hands-on learning experiences are what separate the traditional classroom from a less traditional classroom abroad.

You'll grow as a person

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Not only does studying abroad allow you to learn more than you could imagine, but it also forges friendships for life. I'll always be grateful for this. Being in a country over 8,000 miles away with completely new people gave me a fresh perspective of the world and life itself.

Going to college in the US, it's easy to get comfortable with the way things are. Having a greater understanding of views different from what you've always known is the most rewarding aspect of studying abroad. In this digital age of interconnectedness through the internet and cell phones, it's crucial all students take the opportunity to experience the world firsthand.

While everyone else says “College is the best time of your life”, I would say instead, studying abroad has the ability to be the best and one of the most influential decisions one can make while in college. 

Ohio State