Study abroad. We’ve all had that one friend that goes abroad and comes back claiming that “it was the time of my life” or “it changed me forever.” I used to roll my eyes when they said this and continued to tell me about their crazy times and wild experiences—until I spent a semester living abroad myself. While these statements may be cliché, they have every bit of truth behind them. Not only did studying abroad change my life, but it prepared me for real life and I believe everyone should do it while they still can. 

Most of us Americans grew up in a bubble. We were taught that America is the greatest country in the world and every country wants to be like us. We aren’t required to learn and become fluent in other languages, and we are proud of our culture. Studying abroad in a different country allows you to immerse yourself into cultures that are foreign to you.

These countries have rich history that is more than just 200 years old.  There are buildings in Europe that are much, much older than the United States is. Until we go out and see it for ourselves, we can’t fully grasp what this means. Many countries in Europe force their students to learn two, sometimes three, languages other than their own. When I was in France, my host brothers could speak French, English, Spanish, and even Mandarin. They could communicate with people from all corners of the world.

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Living in a completely unfamiliar place forces you to take a look at yourself and focus on what you want and who you want to be. You also meet people that help you get there.

“I learned how to lose myself and figure out what to do from there” said Nora Peters, who studied abroad in 2012. “I had to make new friends, which taught me a lot about myself.”

While abroad, I made friends with a group of girls that became some of the most cherished friends I will ever have. They helped me become who I am today and who I am going to be in the future. Everyone who goes abroad shares these sentiments. When you’re dropped into a new, strange place, you find people that you bond with because they are going through the same thing and you figure it out together. These experiences make studying abroad that much more important.

Not only do you learn so much about yourself and the world around you while studying abroad, but it also prepares you for real life situations that can occur in the future. When studying abroad, you learn to go with the flow when things unexpectedly don’t go your way. Trains may not run on schedule, your passport and wallet may get stolen, and you may have to sleep in a bunk next to an old man in a hostel that speaks a language you’ve never even heard in your life who snores like a freight train… but you learn to deal with it and move on.

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“Study abroad taught me how to cope with anxiety, let go of control, change my perspective of wealth and value, and learn how to be selfish in a good way,” Lexa Weeks, University of Colorado graduate, said.

Being abroad, no matter where you go, teaches you how to communicate with people from all different ways of life. You open your mind to new things, and you become a more mature person because of this.

Your trip looks good on your resumé. Employers see that you have tried new things and have learned how to deal with many different kinds of people. I got a job because I bonded with my boss over our conversation about our travels. Frankly, the ability to have that on your resumé makes you look well-rounded.

Every single person I have talked to who studied abroad has so many exciting stories and incredible experiences. Everyone should have the opportunity to create some of their own as well. I changed so much during my time abroad. I gained more self esteem and confidence. I am more sure of who I am now and also not sure of quite where it is that I’m going anymore, but I’m okay with it all.  I know, I know… I am so full of clichés. But truly, I am so glad that I took that leap and studied abroad—I have no regrets. In the famous words of Julius Caesar: “Veni, vidi, vici.” I came, I saw, I conquered. You should too.

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What’s your experience with study abroad? Share it with us in the comments below!