Nowadays, it is very common for universities to offer study abroad programs. Whether it be for a year or a semester, moving to another country is a nerve-wracking experience that can change you in unexpected ways. It is a rewarding personal challenge, that will stay with you. Here’s why everyone should study abroad at least once.
The most obvious element that makes us want a change of scenery is the possibility of discovering a new country. Depending on how far you go, you may encounter a new language, architecture, climate, or way of thinking that might radically change from what you are used to. This can be very stimulating and awaken your curiosity and eagerness to learn everything about your new environment. Moving somewhere unknown also makes you more versatile as you become familiar with your new home. When I studied abroad in Italy for instance, I had to get accustomed to the casual rhythm of life: students and teachers were allowed a 15 minute delay to class. Italian students would often lounge around in the sun sipping coffee. There was an overall idleness to things.
Ability to reinvent yourself
Studying abroad, and moving away by yourself specifically, is an opportunity to have a fresh new start. A blank page where you are free to be who you want to be. This doesn’t mean faking a whole new personality, but simply being able to be yourself, free from the baggage you may be carrying when living in one place for a long time. No one in this new environment knows anything about you, which can be extremely liberating.
See what you can accomplish
It is also the opportunity to test your limits and see all the things you can accomplish by yourself: from meeting new people and making friends, to the administrative stuff that a move to another country implies (getting a visa, renting an apartment, getting medical insurance…). Seeing what you are capable of doing on your own as an individual leads to a lot of personal growth.
Meeting new people and developing friendships are very rewarding. It’s always nice to see that no matter your age you can make friends, and as you grow older, they might even be more likely to appreciate the same things as you do. My semester abroad for my Master’s in Cultural Management allowed me to meet people who were just as excited as I was about reading, drawing, or going to museums, which made our bond that much stronger.
Taste of freedom
The taste of freedom you get from living alone in a new country feels like an unexpected high. It’s unlike any other feeling to be far from home, to reminisce about all your loved ones far away, and to feel proud of everything that you have managed to accomplish in a completely foreign land.
Living abroad is a unique personal experience. Chances are you’ll want to do it more than once.
Article by Inès Huet