When arriving in a new country, 4,000 miles away from your best friends and the place you call home, it is inevitable that you will feel so many emotions — lots of excitement, but mostly nerves and anxiety about this new experience you are about to begin. It’s challenging not to think about the “what-ifs” — What if you don’t make new friends? What if things are different when you fly back home four months later? But as cliche as it sounds, studying abroad in college is truly one of the best decisions you can ever make, and here are some reasons why:
1. It’s a good break
Even though college is supposedly the best four years of your life, I think we can all admit that it can get pretty repetitive alternating between studying and partying. From personal experience, I can attest to the second year slump being very real. Studying abroad is the perfect escape. It’s such a fun change of pace living in a new city with new people. Most study abroad academic programs are much less rigorous than what UVA students are accustomed to, so it’s a great break from the usual stress of school as well.
2. Meeting new people
Having to make new friends is a daunting thought, but when you are thrown into a completely new situation halfway across the world, it is a lot easier than you’d think. Whether it is through bonding over the confusing metro system or the inability to find anything in the grocery store, you are bound to form plenty of friendships. One of the best parts about these new friends is that they are likely to be from all over the country and even potentially the world, which means the fun still continues after your study abroad program ends and you can plan a visit!
3. It is a once in a lifetime opportunity
When else are you going to have the opportunity to travel the world for months at a time? Unless you are one of the lucky few who gets to make a living by being a travel journalist, this opportunity may never arise again. Take advantage of studying abroad in college while you can!
4. It will push you out of your comfort zone
Living in a new country for four months comes with a lot of new firsts. For some people, it could be the first time they’ve been away from their family for such an extended period of time and for others it could be their first time outside of their home country. Consequently, you are bound to be forced out of your comfort zone and into new, unforgettable adventures. This extra push is guaranteed to make you grow tremendously as a person, but studying abroad allows you to broaden your horizons academically as well. Embracing the different educational systems and values of the country is a significant part of immersing yourself in the culture.
5. Distance makes the heart grow fonder
Being away from America for so long, you will begin to appreciate the little things that previously went unnoticed, such as being able to order ice in your water and sleeping with a top sheet. But more importantly, time abroad can really make you appreciate and cherish your family and friends even more than you did before you left.