Most students decide that college is the time where they are going to figure out who they want to be when they grow up.
While there are multiple influences that can bring a student to discover who they are and what their purpose is, there is one influence, above all, that has the ability to steer a student in the right direction. That influence is studying abroad.
An article published on iesabroad.org said that for the first time, a long-term study was done on students who had studied abroad in college.
“The first large-scale survey to explore the long-term impact of study abroad on a student’s personal, professional and academic life shows that study abroad positively and unequivocally influences the career path, world-view and self-confidence of students,” the study said.
Elizabeth Lawrence, a senior at California Lutheran University spent the spring 2015 semester studying abroad in Australia. In an email interview, Lawrence said she believes that going abroad is important because it can really open your eyes and show you what the world actually has to offer.
“I think it’s important to travel because there is so much more than what you see in front of you. You constantly hear about all of the unique cultures around the world, but getting to see it through your own eyes is an entirely different experience,” Lawrence said.
Studying abroad has the power to teach students beyond more than what they learn in the classroom.
In an interview for the iesabroad.org study Carloyn Valtos, who studied abroad said she learned more in her time abroad than she has learned in her other three and a half years in college because she got to experience a different culture.
“Overall, I learned a lot more about myself in that one semester than I did in the three and a half years in my home school because of the unique space in which I learned, experienced and spent exploring another culture,” Valtos said.
While there are students who will go abroad without hesitation, there are students who will be reluctant to drop everything and leave to go to a different country. These students are experiencing the fear of missing out, or “FOMO” as it has become to be known.
Student’s experiencing “FOMO” are scared of what it will mean to leave behind the routine of their lives and immerse themselves into a completely new situation.
Lawrence’s advice for students feeling this fear is to remember that they are about to embark on a journey that will change how they view the world and to go abroad no matter what.
“Do it! As you have probably heard over and over from any student that has studied abroad, it is one of the best decisions you will make in college. Traveling is the most eye-opening experience that can completely change your views and perspectives on the world for the better.”
My hope is that students will not let the fear of missing out hold them back, and instead, will embrace the opportunity to take in a new culture and gain new insights about the world.
According to globalexperiences.com, one of the most important things for students to remember is that “FOMO” is fake, and that they shouldn’t agonize over what their friends are posting on social media because more than likely they’re artificial and aren’t the everyday norm.
“Remind students (and yourself) that those images and posts that are causing anxiety are just the things that your friends want you to see. Of course they posted the pictures from a party, but you’re not seeing images of your friends sitting in class or watching TV,” globalexperiences.com said.
Going abroad in college, whether it be for a month, a semester, or a year can open up doors for students that they previously didn’t know existed.
Lawrence says that students need to make sure that wherever they are going, they go with an open mind.
“I learned to try and not make assumptions about the places I am traveling to – they are never what you expect. Australia, Indonesia and New Zealand were very different than I expected, but I am so in love with them nonetheless,” Lawrence said. “Try to go into a place with no expectations, letting yourself experience everything freely with completely open eyes.”
Although it’s a huge decision to make, going abroad should not be a scary one. The time to explore the world, take in a new culture and seize the opportunity to study in a new country is now.
Home will always be waiting for you when you come back.
Published October 28th, 2015