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Why Everyone Should Study Abroad

If you think “studying” means burying yourself in the back of a library with text books stacked around you like pancakes, sorry to tell you this but you’re doing it all wrong.

Study Abroad is the beautiful loophole in this book-confining monotony of academia, allowing students at their pinnacle of curiosity and adventurousness to rise out of the lesson-plan-scripted classroom and into an environment where learning occurs through all five senses whether it be in tasting a Gyro, learning how to give a toast in a foreign language, or maybe in having one’s breath taken away when seeing the Cologne Cathedral for the first time. Study Abroad isn’t something to think twice about—just sign the paperwork, apply for a visa, and go. I mean, how often does one get the opportunity to use studying as an excuse to travel the world, experience an unfamiliar culture, and party like a rock star all the while?

There are many benefits that come with studying abroad. On the more practical side, you won’t have to take a semester off for your traveling—an argument that it important to remember when it comes to convincing your parents to pay for this international voyage (“Come on, Mom. It’s educational!”). Rather, you get to keep riding that academic conveyor belt to a timely graduation while diversifying your overall collegiate experience. Furthermore, many Study Abroad programs cater to a specific academic field such as Engineering programs in China, Journalism in England, Religion in Italy, and International Business in Germany, providing a “hands-on” approach to learning. Why study Art History in a classroom when you can experience it first hand by visiting some of the world’s most renowned museums or learn a foreign language out of a book when you can learn it by practicing with its native speakers? Remember how fun field trips were back in grade school? Now imagine that for a whole semester.

Another (and in my opinion, the most important) reason you absolutely must study abroad is the opportunity to live with a host family. Not only do home stays give you a greater insight into the day-to-day life of people from a different culture, but also they allow you to grow more aware of who you are and what you value as defined by your national upbringing. Maybe you’ll learn how other cultures use culinary rituals to bring family and friends together, how energy is valued and conserved, or maybe you’ll discover that your native luxuries aren’t things you are entitled to but rather you are privileged to have. Though not all Study Abroad programs provide host families to their students, I strongly recommend participating in a program that does. It will give you a sense of belonging in a home away from home.

If you are still hesitant to leave your family and friends behind for four months or so, please just know that everything will be exactly as you left it when you return home. So what you missed out on a few parties with friends and a handful of fraternity meetings? All that stuff will still be going on when you get back and meanwhile, you’ll have had an experience of a lifetime enviable of anyone who opted to stay home for Greek Week and a handful of mixers instead.

And really, why live the same school day twice? The choice is yours.

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