Thinking of studying abroad? Here’s why you should

“The lows are really low, and the highs are really high,” said Na Young Shin ’17.

I couldn’t agree more. Studying abroad is an experience in learning how to make judgements by yourself, and developing the self-confidence to do so.

It is about finding ways to meaningfully communicate with strangers, sometimes (most times) without using English. It’s about going to a restaurant, eating delicious food and not knowing any of the customs. More often than not, being in a foreign country will teach you something about how the United States is perceived because you are exposed to a world that isn’t yours. That is always something to learn and grow from.

Quite literally,  your perspectives are widened. If you are staying at someone’s home instead of a dorm, you are immersed in another culture and language. The informalities and norms inherent in every culture suddenly become something you can see and feel.  Some days, being abroad is sad and lonely, while other days you walk back home beaming because you had an unimaginable experience and can’t wait to talk about it and do it again. That is the nature of studying abroad.

When deciding where to go, motivation is important. Are you going somewhere for the language? For the academic program? For your career? For the mountaineering? Having motivation to be somewhere helps you find unconventional ways to enjoy being there. You’ll have a number of different possible choices. You could join a local MeetUp group to improve your language skills or maybe even attend a conference to do research for your final paper.

I studied at the Central European University (CEU), a graduate school in Budapest, Hungary. CEU has strong public policy and environmental policy programs and was founded by George Soros. It was a leftist hub of progressive and internationally relevant thinking, where I met people who were inspiring, creative and understanding. My experience was one of the most independent times of my life and gave me faith in myself like few other things have. You have everything to benefit from studying abroad and little to lose.

Applications to study abroad during Fall 2017 are due on March 1. The entire application is now available online here.