Why Studying Abroad Changed My Life

Last weekend, I sat down with one my friends who’s also in the teacher-prep program at my school and we made a presentation. The next day, we got to tell high schoolers about our experiences studying abroad and ultimately, why they’re the best thing that ever happened to us.
Putting that together made me a little emotional and nostalgic, just like remembering the trip always does. It was something so far removed from anything I’d ever done and, honestly, I’d do it again in a heart beat. Going outside of my comfort zone really, really paid off.
I’d been to Spain once before, but I knew I wanted to go back and really live there for a little bit. I would tell people this, but I don’t think I ever realized it could actually be a possibility for me. It was expensive, and if it wasn’t absolutely necessary, why should I do it?

However, when I changed my major to Spanish, it ended up becoming a requirement to graduate (sort-of). There were other options like getting a job in a Spanish-speaking community here, but you really had to seek those out and that sounded like a task that I just didn’t have the patience for. (Yes I know, I’m just making excuses, but come on. I didn’t want anything to get in the way of me finally living in Spain!)

So, I applied to a program, was accepted, and the adventure began.

The first day I was there, I literally got sick. Super attractive…eh?

By the end of the first week, I wanted to leave. I missed everyone. No one spoke my language. It was hard. Ugh. First world problems, am I right?

However, it was that tough time that really changed me.

Just like when you fall in love, I can’t recall an exact moment where my feelings changed, but they did.

I began to love the walks to class in the morning. The culture that was so very different, but had become so familiar. The buildings that surrounded me, and the mountains that surrounded them. The smell of an ocean just a few minutes away. The way the city looked at night, when you were standing on the coast. The nightlife. The independence. The way speaking another language tested me. Communicating with and living with someone whose life was the opposite of everything I knew.

My experience was nothing like I’d imagined. Studying abroad wasn’t all “fun and games”. This was hard work. Being homesick. Putting myself out there to make friends. Taking chances and seeing the world, even though I knew I was already broke.

It was in those moments when I was forced to make a decision where I figured out who I was and what I wanted out of life.

There is nothing like studying abroad, because the whole experience is out of your comfort zone.

No matter where you go or what you do, it’s not what you know. It’s not your small-town or city-life that you grew up with.

So, my dear readers, if you’re ever feeling stuck in life or wondering what your purpose is, get out and do something you’ve never done. And it doesn’t have be something big, it just needs to be something you’ve never done.

Maybe you’ll be terrible at it, maybe you’ll hate it, but it’s in those times that you learn about yourself the most.

 

 

What’s the biggest moment in your life when you stepped out of your comfort zone? Comment below and let’s talk,


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