One of my classmates and fellow RAs, Monique Prevost, posted this article on my Facebook a few days ago and ever since reading it, I’ve been trying to decide to what extent I disagree with it. Because it is another college student’s opinion I didn’t want to have strong negative feelings to it, but after reading it, I literally can not disagree more with his opinion. I respect it, and if I try hard enough I can slightly understand where he is coming from, but I still believe he is wrong. He is completely right in one of his first points that the reason students come to study in the US is because we have the best school systems. After this point, he loses me. He believes that if you are on the fence about studying abroad that you should reconsider and instead, consider what you will be leaving behind. He believes that if someone studies abroad, while they are gone their entire lives back home will change; that their friends will dump them. I can’t say this won’t happen, but I also think that if your friends stop speaking to you because you decided to expand your horizons and study in a different country for a semester to better yourself, then you need better friends.
He then goes on to say a quote that I quite like…
Studying abroad is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. But so is college itself.
I completely agree to this and can respect it, but then he goes on to ruin it with…
Living among your peers, spending hours pondering life’s biggest questions or partying up to four nights a week is not something you’ll be doing after graduation.
Although this may be his definition of what goes down at college, it doesn’t encompass the most important aspect of college : EDUCATION. The reason to go abroad is to educate yourself. Educate yourself on language, culture, customs, and living. Going abroad is far more than the classes you take there, but the time you spend there, just like the time you spend on your domestic campus. You will learn more about yourself in 4 months abroad than you will in your entire 4 years in college. I had a guest speaker once and he made the class go around and tell their most embarrassing story, because you don’t know someone until you know them at their worst and most uncomfortable. Building on this, you don’t know yourself until you are out of your comfort zone. I don’t mean you have to go abroad to know yourself, but you need to challenge yourself in someway that takes you far far away from your comfort zone.
The USA Today blog article encourages those who are on the fence on studying abroad to reconsider and remember what’s at home. I disagree. If you are on the fence about going abroad, go. Thrust yourself into another culture. Get lost in a foreign city. Meet people with accents you can barely understand. Eat something that you literally have no idea what it is. Learn a new culture. Experience something new and love it.