All semester I’ve been thinking to myself, “Why doesn’t everyone study abroad?! It’s probably the greatest thing ever!” So, I thought I’d make a list of 5 reasons why I think you should study abroad, or at the very least, travel.
Culture is probably one of my favorite parts about traveling! I love learning about different cultures and when you study abroad, you have the opportunity to really invest in a culture. In New Zealand, I’ve been fortunate enough to learn about and experience both the kiwi and Maori culture. I’ve watched rugby at 4 am with screaming fans, gone diving (aka snorkeling) off the shore, ate fish and chips, and enjoyed the good ole outdoors. I’ve also been to a Maori powhiri (welcoming ceremony), hongi-ed people (Maori nose-to-nose greeting), and slept in a Marae (Maori meeting house) on the floor with 20 other people. And food. Food in other cultures is so good. Do it for the food.
2. Meeting new and interesting people
Another great part about traveling and studying abroad…you meet so many great (and interesting) people! Even though I’m studying with all American students, I’ve met people from Germany, Ireland, England, Australia, Canada, and so many more countries simply by being in the community and traveling around New Zealand. You hear some pretty great stories when you strike up a conversation with people abroad.
3. Learning something new
Hopefully in your time studying abroad you would learn something new educationally, but if all else fails, you can learn something new about yourself. By studying abroad, I’ve learned so much about conservation and Creation Care, but I’ve also learned a lot about myself. When you bring yourself to a new and unfamiliar place, you’re in the perfect position to discover something new about yourself and that’s so wonderful!
4. You get to see really cool stuff
One of the best parts about traveling and studying abroad is just the cool stuff you get to see. I went from the flats of Michigan to the mountainous regions of New Zealand. I live about a 5 minutes bike ride from an ocean teaming with wildlife and where the mountains run right into the ocean! Already this semester, I’ve seen a variety of native and endemic birds (even one in which Kaikoura is its only breeding place in the world!), native vegetation, countless seals, 3 species of dolphins, and little blue penguins! And hopefully, I’ll see some whales in a few weeks time!
5. Because your major isn’t a good enough excuse
So often, I heard students saying they couldn’t study abroad because they were a pre-med student or they just couldn’t fit it into their schedule. Being a biology major with a pre-veterinary focus, I was really discouraged and thought I wouldn’t be able to make it work. I was so determined to have this experience, though. Let me personally attest to the fact that it is possible! It may take some rearranging of the schedule and one or two summer classes, but it’s possible and totally worth it! And for me, I found a program that fit well with my major and allowed me to take some classes in biology and environmental studies along with gain amazing experiences in field work. I’ve spent the last few weeks collecting data with researchers on the little blue penguin, learning so much and enjoying the cute penguin chick fluffiness even more!
Even if you’re just considering studying abroad, I hope this convinces you a little more! My semester has been the experience of a lifetime and I have gained friendships and connections I will carry with me into the future. I’ve learned so much both academically and about myself, and it’s hard to see this experience begin to come to a close, but have gained so much to take back to Hope with me!
Much love from Down Under,