A message to people studying abroad in the Spring

2 minute read

You’ve received your acceptance letter. You’ve informed your friends and loved ones by appropriately posting your impending journey on Facebook. Plane ticket? Check. Passport and visa? Check. List of everything you want to do once you’re there and the prospects you hope to gain after a semester in Europe/Australia/Asia/South America/[insert country here]? I would hold off on that.

Lately, I’ve been seeing many peers elated as study abroad programs or foreign schools send out their waves of acceptances for studying abroad in the Spring of 2017. (To those people: Congrats!). These people have every right to be exuberant about the opportunity to study internationally. As someone who has studied in three countries, in Rome as I type this, and plan to visit four more countries this week, this experience has accelerated my self-discovery, namely who I am and who I want to be, and how studying abroad can enable and help forge that person.

However, any experience outside your comfort zone is innately a challenge. People purposely expose themselves in awkward or distressing situations in the hopes that they can shift the experience in a positive direction. We venture off to spaces on our own so we can grow to be comfortable with our fear of loneliness; we engage in sexual activity so we can be more vulnerable with our bodies to those with whom we trust; and sometimes we leave the country (i.e. studying abroad) for a multitude of reasons, but ultimately many of us seek one thing: change.

Sadly, for many of us, our universities encase us in an impenetrable bubble that envelops us by providing everything we need within close vicinity. We also constantly battle time to handle academics, extracurricular commitments, and our social life that proximity is a blessing. We know this invisible bubble imprisons us, and PSETs, papers, and exams ad infinitum serve as the guards to ensure we don’t leave. Therefore, we accept this bubble.

Then there those that wish to escape—and what better way to escape our academic citadels than by using academics as an excuse? Why not for a brief moment learn more about the world outside the bubble—the people, the culture, the history—if it means challenging the status quo and becoming a person more integrated within the international community?

What studying abroad has done for me is that it has made me more comfortable with being outside the bubble either forged by my institutions or one that I create to establish my comfort. I’ve become more comfortable with being alone. I’ve swiftly adapted to events that would have incapacitated me in the past. I’ve learned to love my culture even more, and I feel even more fiercely independent.

So to all of those who are currently preparing for an adventurous Spring semester, either here with DIS or your respective program, I hope you enjoy it! Take challenges. Immerse yourself in the culture. Meet new people—not just people you have never met before, but people who look, act and think differently than you do. If you’re going to make a list of goals, ask people for suggestions and try those out, because if you make them entirely, your bubble may influence your goals to ensure the bubble comes with you abroad.


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