Thoughts on studying abroad, straight from the student's mouth

By The Team, edited by Valeri Boyle
Published July 25, 2011

Of course we support studying abroad, but don’t just take it from us. We spoke with students about why they chose to study abroad and here’s what they had to say.

Gain a new perspective on life

“At first, I was extremely nervous about going abroad. I’ve always been a bit of a control-freak and I knew that while studying abroad in The Netherlands and traveling throughout Europe there would be so much out of my control. But, it was such an important opportunity for me to get out of my comfort zone. It put many things from my life in the States in perspective for me—relationships, careers, friendships. When I was abroad, I learned to go-with-the-flow more, which has truly made my post-abroad life easier. If you worry too much, you’ll miss out on the amazing sights and experiences. I’ve taken that mentality back home with me and it truly is the best souvenir.”
—Michelle King, studied abroad in the Netherlands

Become global-minded

“Studying abroad adds another level to your college experience. It takes you out of your element and places you in a place where you are less comfortable, enabling you to learn in a new way. Experiencing other cultures around the world broadens your knowledge base and teaches you to think and live differently. It is so important, today, to have a solid understanding of different cultures, and I think sending students abroad is an easy way to set up our generation to be a more globally-minded society.”
—Emily O’Hara, studied abroad in England

Embark on exciting adventures

“The adventures you experience abroad, in a new environment, are reason enough to expand your studies overseas. I went bungee jumping, paragliding, I rode an ostrich, went shark cage diving, went on safari in Kruger National Park, surfing at Muizenberg, and I went on a week long road trip across the south coast from Durban back to Cape Town. Being a minority for the first time ever, I now can honestly say that my perspective of the world has changed. I take less for granted and take full advantage of the opportunities and resources at my disposal. I made countless friends from all over the world including Mozambique, Uganda, Namibia, Zimbabwe, as well as South Africa. Studying abroad was an experience that I've always looked forward to and can now always look back on with no regrets and only fond memories! I will definitely be back.”
—Jennifer Barrett, studied abroad in South Africa

Make unforgettable memories

“It’s very easy to get homesick when you talk to your family and friends every day, but when I changed my routine, it became a lot easier to focus on my time spent in Europe than the time missed back home. Studying abroad is a great opportunity to get a crash course of the cities you always dream about, and the perfect chance to broaden your perspective in general.”
—Shanae Burch, studied abroad in the Netherlands

Get out of your comfort zone

"Study abroad gave me the opportunity to explore that gray area of our lives called 'The Comfort Zone.' It brought me out of my nest at the College of Charleston and into a culture of new attitudes, values and beliefs. At times it was unbelievably frustrating, but the friends I made abroad helped me through the lows. And then they were there with me for the highs! It was an extremely rewarding experience accentuated by the fact that, by the end of my stay, I had eaten frites and kebab for five months and was able to talk about American politics in French with the locals at the neighborhood laundromat."
—Kyle Rees, studied abroad in Belgium

Get to know yourself

“Studying abroad was an incredibly important semester for me. Being away for that long from your comfort zone forces you to analyze yourself, which can be really difficult but you come out a better person. I don't know anyone who wouldn't say the same; it's a huge opportunity for personal growth and development. For me personally, studying abroad in Paris allowed me to glimpse the kind of future I might want to lead. I'm a more independent and stronger person for the experience.”
—Greg Nussen, studied abroad in France

Develop a new sense of independence

“Don’t worry about missing out on what is going on here in the US. It’s going to be happening for a long time, and you will be a part of it eventually. But for a semester, get out there and leave your comfort zone to experience a freedom and independence that will make you realize how much beauty there really is in this world. Then bring that experience back to all your friends at home and let them be so jealous!”
—Patrick McDonald, studied abroad in the Netherlands