Studying Abroad in College

Prior to coming to Hope, I knew, just knew, that I was going to study abroad. I told my friends, family, and even teachers about it long before I even applied to colleges. I planted that idea of studying abroad in my head because I was following my well thought out plan:

  1. Apply to college.
  2. Be accepted to ____ college.
  3. Take French classes every semester (as well as the other required classes for my major, etc)
  4. Junior year: apply to study abroad in Paris!

I have been following said plan for the past four years now and it’s worked! I was accepted through Hope to study abroad, and I applied and was accepted through CIEE’s Contemporary French Studies program. This whole process has been one of the most exciting (yet nerve-wracking) experiences I have gone through, but it has been SO WORTH IT. If you are thinking about studying abroad while at Hope, but are still unsure, I am here to tell you all of the reasons why you should!

1. You will develop valuable skills you can’t learn in the classroom

Sure, you can learn about a different country and its culture in a classroom setting, but is it really the same as actually going to that country and experiencing what life is like? It’s definitely not the same, which is why studying abroad is worth taking that risk. This is my first time going to Europe, and although I may think I know all about French culture and society, I will realize how much I truly know when I get there! I know I will face challenges along the way, but that is only going to make this experience more valuable in the long run.

2. You get to immerse yourself in a new language

It’s one thing to study a language in a classroom setting and another to actually immerse yourself in learning a new language in a foreign country. You have to force yourself to take all that you’ve learned in the classroom and apply it to real world situations in a completely new and unknown setting! Being in France, for example, I will have to actually practice my French when I am around my host family, when I am talking to my peers or my professors, and of course, when I am exploring the city! The only way to truly grasp a better handle on a language is to not only practice, but also letting go of all your fears of saying something wrong and just fully immersing yourself in the language on a daily basis.

3. You get to travel!

This is probably the most exciting part about studying abroad and what I am most looking forward to! Being in a different country where you have never been to before can be a bit scary, but think of all of the places you can go and see while you are there that you wouldn’t be able to visit elsewhere. Another fun part about studying abroad is that through your program, you will be given the opportunity (or several) to go on group excursions in the country you are studying in.

4. Your worldview will be expanded

One of the things I was told during my study abroad orientation was this: “Take the time to catch up on world news, especially in the country you will going to.” I really didn’t take this into consideration until I thought about it much later. Often, we are too caught up in what is going on in our own country that we forget to educate ourselves on what is going on in other countries throughout the world. Their news is just as important as our news. Don’t be that person who doesn’t know a single thing about the current news of the country you are studying in.

5. You become more independent

When you study abroad in a foreign country, you are being pulled away from your normal routine that you are used to doing everyday. You don’t have your support system of your friends and family close to you. Although this may seem scary at first, you will eventually find your own routine and will get accustomed to it; it just takes time! Your friends and family are a phone or Skype call away, and use Facebook or a blog to keep everyone informed of what you are doing. During this experience you will come to be more responsible for yourself and your actions, both valuable skills you will use in the future!

Hopefully these reasons will guide you in your decision making as you continue to think about studying abroad! If you want to know more about the programs Hope offers, their study abroad website is a valuable resource for you to use.

I will be blogging about my experience in Paris, so feel free to check back starting in January or follow me on Twitter @HopeMarisela16!

Posted inStudy Abroad

Published by Marisela Meraz

Hello! My name is Marisela, but everyone knows me by Mari. I am a senior at Hope majoring in English with an emphasis on writing and minoring in French. I am also part of the Theta Gamma Pi Sorority on campus. In my free time, I enjoy baking, taking photos, watching Netflix, and making music playlists for my friends. I am so excited to share my Hope experiences with you all!

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