Corus, Turkey, 2011.

Two unavoidable benefits of studying abroad

One of the best pieces of advice I got as an undergraduate was from a professor trying to convince me to join his study-abroad trip.

Dr. Gordon Young said, “You are going to be in debt for the rest of your life, so you might as well have something to remember it by.”

It took me all of five minutes to decide he was right and sign up for my first trip overseas without family. Now, on my fourth trip studying abroad, I’ve learned that there is nothing that gets your confidence up like surviving in a foreign country and making it back home without incident.

Taking soil measurements in Turkey, 2011.

There are a lot of pros to studying abroad, and many of them depend on the class you’re taking and how closely related it is to your major. There are, however, a couple of things that one can gain on any trip abroad. The most prominent is confidence. When you are thrown into a foreign country, you have times when you sink or swim. Believe me, the curiosity gets to you and you leave the comfort of your quarters on your day off. It starts before you even leave and get on the plane, and keeps growing until you have to leave your comfort zone and go see the unknown. The entire time you’re there, you want to go explore. For every successful day of exploring that passes, confidence in your abilities (even if not your linguistics) grows.

Another good thing about studying abroad is the exposure to a new culture. There are new ways to think and approach life in every corner of the world. Within a few days, these differences really stand out to your mind, but the fun begins when you start working with them. Not all countries of the world operate in the same way as the home country you’re used to, and it takes a bit of patience to work with that fact. Opening yourself up to these differences and learning to work with them allows you to better work with a larger group of people under more diverse circumstances.

From a work standpoint, you also learn various ways that a single thing can be done. From there, you can reflect on the outcome and efficiency, choosing the best way to accomplish results. In my case it was climbing mountains in Turkey ─ I learnt a lot from the folks that lived on them about conserving energy, making sure I could work all day.

Working at the top of a mountain where the remnants of an ancient forest fire was discovered. Turkey, 2011.

These benefits, coupled with new experiences of all varieties, are invaluable in every area of life. You’ll learn to bring patience and understanding to any situation, as well as an unshakable confidence that will allow you to work through situations to the best of your abilities, and not be blocked by the fear of failure.

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