An Open Letter to Those Considering Studying Abroad Next Semester



I get it, you desperately want to spend some time in a foreign country, but the idea of simply uprooting and jumping on a plane absolutely terrifies you. However, that is exactly why you should take the plunge and choose to study abroad.

Nothing will make you appreciate your own home more than spending some time away from it. The same goes for your family and friends. Once you spend a little time away from them, you realize who are the people you really want in your life. Hint: they’ll be the ones you make a committed effort to stay in touch with and vice versa. Upon returning home, you will see things in a whole new light and have a greater respect for the place that you grew up in.

You may think you are content with seeing far away lands through electronic mediums, but believe me, everything looks better in person. You might think it is impossible for Venetian sunsets or The Black Forest of Germany to look anymore beautiful than they do in the pictures, but seeing the wonders of the world in person will exceed all expectations. Seeing a city through a television screen or photograph can never adequately convey the tangible personality and unique characteristics each city has to offer. The still atmosphere of a London morning just before rush hour hits or walking down a street in Paris with the smell of fresh bread gently wafting out into the street, are examples of seemingly simple things that actually have such depth and power and can only be experienced to the full extent in person.

I could tell you that it will be perfect and you won’t experience any bumps in the road, but that would be a lie. You will absolutely experience some kind of problem during your travels. You will probably get homesick at some point. You will probably get lost. It is important to note that this is not a negative by any means, as through overcoming problems you learn and grow as a person. You enhance your sense of self and sharpen your instincts.  You learn that home is not a place, but a sense of contentment and happiness. That inner compass that helps you make decisions becomes more precise with each step you take. For every problematic situation, there are triple the amount of wonderfully enriching and effortless experiences.

Through spending time abroad, you will learn that material items do not matter in the greater scheme of things, but experiences do. Experiences shape who you are as a person and establish your morals and goals.  Experiences are what you will remember in 10 years, not that handbag you really want to buy. Through trial, error and experimentation you set yourself on the path to success in later life. When you can no longer call mom to do something for you, you become far more independent and develop self-sufficiency.

Immersing yourself in a new culture will make you more aware of how different people across the world really are. Things that are familiar and mundane for you will be strange and unusual for the people you will meet during your travels. Similarly, the customs and traditions that are observed in the countries you visit, will fascinate and educate you further. Considering the rise of globalization, the ability to be able to communicate with people from different walks of life is highly valuable. Having a greater understanding of the world that surrounds you will help you in everything you do, from making decisions to better understanding other people.

Don’t let a silly little thing like fear hold you back and prevent you from exploring the world around you. If the opportunity to study abroad presents itself to you, grab it eagerly. You may not ever get the chance to travel to foreign shores again, so do not miss out. Go ahead and open yourself up to the world of excitement and diversity. I promise you, it will delight and thrill you in ways you never thought possible.

Aisling McEntegart

Aisling McEntegart is a senior in the 3.0 program majoring in multimedia journalism. McEntegart currently holds the position of editor-in-chief and has a particular interest in entertainment and lifestyle writing. When she is not doing something journalism related, McEntegart enjoys reading, traveling and taking advantage of everything South Florida has to offer.

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