The cool thing nowadays is to study abroad they say and universities love to market their budding abroad programs to incoming students. Studying abroad in a country oceans away or maybe just a few countries over seems like a grand idea that only a small percentage of people actually get to undertake. Well I can tell you for sure that studying in Paris this past semester was one of the most amazing adventures and experiences of my life thus far.
Going abroad gives you the opportunity to study in a new and a potentially extremely foreign culture and I was lucky enough to study in Paris. I had never been to France before, but my dad lived there when he was younger and we have quite a bit of family who resides in various parts of France, including Paris. Thus, coming and studying in Paris was foreign to me. Luckily however, when I was feeling a little homesick, I could go hang with my family for the day, which was quite comforting. When the day came for me to leave for Paris, I will not lie, I was scared, excited, frightened, and flooded with emotions. I thought my visa had the wrong date and that they weren’t going to let me into the country. Honestly, I was just freaking out because I had no clue what I was getting myself into. I don’t cry about many things, but on this day, I cried quite a bit before we left for the airport. I had so much anxiety. But I got on the plane and when I landed in Paris, my family was there to meet me outside of baggage claim. It was quite comforting and since I was clueless about how to get around the city, it was nice that they helped me get settled in.
The first week was strange and I really didn’t know anyone in the program that well, but within my first few days, I made a few solid connections and these became some of my closest friends throughout the semester. I was lucky enough to do an exchange program at one of the best universities in France, Sciences Po, and I met students from France and all over the world. These are friends that I will keep in touch with in the future and if I’m ever visiting their home country, I know I will have friend. To add, that’s one of the beauties of going abroad. You get to meet people from all walks of life who you probably would’ve never met if these programs and classes didn’t bring us together. In addition to the wonderful people, I loved my exchange university. The style of teaching was different, but I actually found it to be a bit more helpful and focused than what I had been used to previously. I learned so much pertaining to my major throughout the course of the semester. Sciences Po really opened my eyes to something different and I am even considering returning to the university to complete my masters in law after graduating from college.
Studying abroad also allowed me to travel conveniently throughout the semester all around Europe. I biked through Copenhagen with the Danes. One of my good friends was studying in Copenhagen, which was great because it was as if she was my personal tour guide. It was crazy to share this amazing experience with her as we were both studying abroad exploring new cultures and lifestyles. I loved Berlin, truly. It is such an eclectic city, but everyone is so accepting and open. And I must say Germany has the best kebabs out of all the Western European countries. Those were just two of the cities I got to visit while abroad, each so different from the other, but a beautiful experience nonetheless. Most people love to travel, and studying abroad makes traveling a little bit easier especially if you study in Europe or another continent where it is easy to travel between neighboring countries. I also advocate for studying in countries that aren’t as popular as the European countries as there are wonderful countries in Africa and Asia that would make for great studying abroad experiences as well. Furthermore, I decided that a semester wasn’t enough. I enjoyed all the traveling so much that I have decided to take a year off after completing undergrad and before starting graduate school to go on a World Tour. I will be traveling all over the world for a year. (Travel buddies are Welcome LOL) This world is so vast and magnificent; there is so much to be seen and I need to see it.
Every abroad experience is not the same. We all come from different backgrounds; some people have more connections to the abroad countries than others. Some people know the language, while others rely on the google translator to get by as they try to pick up on the language. But the one thing anyone who studies abroad has in common with other abroad students is that they have the opportunity to live a life unfamiliar to their own. He or she can do and be whoever they want to. It’s a time for new opportunities, new relationships, new knowledge and ultimately, individual growth. So, if you can fit it into that hectic school schedule, do it and I guarantee you won’t regret it. And even if you don’t love it as much as I did, I am positive you will gain something from the experience.