I gripped the armrest of my seat as I waited for the rest of the passengers to board our overnight flight headed to Germany. The phrase ‘I hate traveling’ kept repeating in my head, probably to justify the sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach as I traveled halfway around the world.
Upon arrival, I was shuttled into a cramped bus headed toward my hotel, surrounded by people from everywhere. Berlin is a cosmopolitan city. Despite my extensive research about customs and culture, I felt like I stuck out. Once I arrived at my hotel, my nervousness began to fade. My peers greeted me with open arms and the activities of the trip commenced that evening. At that moment, I had no idea that the next two weeks would change my perspective so much and would give me an experience unlike any other.
If you’re on the fence about studying abroad, whether it’s your travel anxieties or other factors keeping you from committing, here are four reasons why you should ignore the part of you telling you to stay back.
1. Personal Connections
In my UF sponsored study abroad program, I met a network of like-minded students to share my unique experience with. Studying in a foreign place allowed me to meet some of the locals, and learn about other cultures. It was very fulfilling to meet so many people and share so many one-of-a-kind experiences.
I know what you’re thinking … studying abroad is NOT cheap. However, if you play your cards right it can be. For my program, the total cost for two weeks in Berlin was about 2,500 dollars, plus the individual cost of airfare. I received a 1,000-dollar scholarship after applying for approximately 50 scholarships, and the top tier of Bright Futures paid for 1,600 dollars-worth of fees, making the tuition nonexistent. Take the time to apply for scholarships and/or create a personal fundraiser on platforms such as Facebook and GoFundMe. Your study abroad experience can also become affordable through scholarship programs offered by the University of Florida International Center.
3. Class Load
In my experience, the classes that students take abroad are similar to what students take at UF. Sometimes, the courses are altered to integrate the new environment. This means earning class credit to sightsee. I earned three credit hours in photography in just two weeks, and the coursework never impeded my day-to-day schedule. I incorporated the photography as I toured the city. Research programs related to your area of study, or just do one for the sake of learning a new hobby. There are endless programs to explore, it’s just about finding the one that’s right for you.
Going abroad is fun for adults too. The faculty at the University of Florida are always looking to find new and creative ways to teach their programs. For many of these faculty members, the benefits of these study abroad programs are just as exemplary for them as they are for the students. This also gives students a better opportunity to get to know faculty members and form professional relationships.
Even if you have travel anxieties or even a tight budget, studying aboard is worth exploring during your time in college.
Bon voyage! Hasta la vista! Ciao!