I have wanted to study abroad for a year since I first starting thinking about university, as I knew that I wanted more from my university experience than just a degree.
I wanted to take advantage of the opportunities available and challenge myself in new ways, and studying abroad seemed like the perfect way to do this. There is no greater way to develop independence and self sufficiency than to remove yourself from what is safe and move across the world to a country that might have a different language or culture. There you have to be responsible for yourself. It is a brilliant way to grow and develop as an individual and will hopefully bring you one step closer to becoming this allusive thing we call ‘adult’.
People often question studying abroad, especially when you go for a year. They wonder if you wouldn’t be better playing it safe and graduating with your class, after all there is always time to travel later. Some even suggest you’re clinging to student life, avoiding responsibility for as long as you can, and in some respects they might be right, but in many more ways they are wrong. When I leave university I want to be the best version of myself I can be – I want to be prepared, hard working and ready for a challenge. That’s part of the reason we go to university, to become responsible, independent people who can offer something to society and the workforce once we get out, but how are we supposed to become these people if we are always playing it safe?
Taking risks and dealing with the outcome, whatever that might be, is part of becoming an adult. If we never went out of our comfort zone, never did anything bold, then we would never grow as a person. Another issue with putting off travelling is that as students we are in a unique position, as we will never be this free from responsibility again.The older we get the more we will find ourselves weighed down by work commitments, relationships and children, making it harder and harder to find that space to do the travelling we put off when we were younger.
While I have been excitedly waiting to start organising my year abroad I now find myself facing my fears, as well as hopes. For while everything I have said above is true, the fact is it is still a big commitment and needs to be thought over carefully. At this stage the paperwork seems daunting, the idea of not getting my first choice exchange partner is concerning and the idea of being away from my family and friends for so long is unimaginable.
However I have found going to the talks organised by the university incredibly helpful, as I have met people who share the same concerns. Another thing which I find helpful is research, as the more I look into the different options available to me the more prepared I feel. While there are things which I am concerned about I am mostly excited for the experience. The idea of living abroad for a whole year is exhilarating and I am very excited to explore the culture of the country I live in, as well as travelling around and exploring with fellow exchange students. Mostly I am excited to see how it changes me as an individual, and how I will have developed by the time I come home.