At Bucknell, you’ll find some of the most involved students around. It’s not difficult to find students in four clubs, with officer positions in each of those clubs, plus they’re in a Greek organization and have a stellar GPA. But another thing that a lot of Bucknellians and other college students have in common is studying abroad. According to the International Education Office (aka the “Study Abroad Office”), 45 percent of Bucknell students will take part in an off-campus experience in one of the over 130 Bucknell University-approved programs around the world. And you can, and should, be in that 45 percent. We’ll get to those reasons in a minute, but first let me tell you that I love Bucknell. Maybe more than is healthy. I can’t help it! From the minute I was on campus, it was love at first sight. You should also know that fall is my FAVORITE season. I love Bucknell in the fall. The trees, that great reunion between all your friends, homecoming—it’s the best. So maybe you’re wondering why this collegiate decided to leave and spend her fall in another country? Well, keep reading and maybe I can convince you to consider it, too.
The Top 5 Reasons to Go Abroad
It’s the perfect excuse to travel the world. If there is one thing that out of college people always say they regret not doing, it’s studying abroad. And for plenty of reasons; one of these being timing. When else in your life will you be able to apply to a multitude of programs to explore the world? After college you might get a job or go to grad school, which won’t leave much travel time. And then maybe you’ll get married and keep working, which also won’t leave much travel time. Either way, your travel clock is ticking—ANSWER IT. Student discounts are a blessing you will soon miss in the real world and they extend to the price of travel.
- It introduces you to new people and places. Never seen a cricket game? Never even heard of the Ponte Vecchio? That’s ok! Studying abroad widens your cultural horizons as well as your aptitude for learning. Studying abroad with students from other colleges widens your horizons by facing you with new social situations to try and experiment. Along with your new program friends, studying abroad introduces you to the culture of the country you’ve decided to study in. Trust me; asking someone how cricket works, attending a home team rugby game and eating traditional British food are not experiences I regret.
- It helps you grow. Hopefully, when I say grow, you don’t think outwards from overeating, but of personal growth. Challenging yourself by taking a step in a new direction can help you mature and blossom into a more confident version of yourself. Sure, change is scary and finding your niche on campus was hard enough the first time, but the personal change you’ll experience after pushing yourself to take a risk is invaluable. I can say that while traveling alone isn’t super fun, it’s exhilarating to look back and realize that you did it. You got yourself somewhere all by yourself. Look at you being an adult! I fully believe that if something doesn’t challenge you, it won’t change you. And when it comes to life, why should you live your life on repeat?
It helps your academic career. Maybe you’re one of those that just naturally does well in class (not this collegiate). But even people who are innately adept at schoolwork will find studying abroad a challenge. You’ve just been dropped in this new place, possibly with a language barrier, expected to make friends, and now to add onto that, you have to do school work, too?? It feels like a lot, and it can be, but it can also make you a more productive student. Maybe professors in your new country expect more of you than professors at Bucknell or for you to prepare differently for class. That’s good. Studying abroad is a great opportunity to discover new strengths and abilities, conquer new challenges and solve new problems. And then you get to take all those new skills back to Bucknell. Plus, studying something like French history in the very place that an event took place can be far more exciting than hearing about it in a classroom.
- It will open new doors. Bucknell is a fantastic place to spend four years as you well know, but exploring the world and seeing what it has to offer can change your perspective. Becoming a world citizen is key in our fast-paced universe of social media and globalization. Awareness of the world we live in makes you a far more interesting person to spend time with than someone whose only concern may be who kissed whom last night. Your time abroad may result in you thinking about working in another country or going to a graduate program abroad or even of further places you want to see. The world is out there and it’s waiting for you to explore it.
I’ll freely admit, being away from my friends has been really hard. Even leaving the comfort of familiar people and professors at Bucknell has been hard. Not seeing the sun set over the quad every afternoon has been hard. But, all my fellow abroaders are feeling the same way. And you’ll soon find there are new sunsets to watch in new places, and new people to meet in new places and new friends to make—not to replace—but to add to your friends at school. People you may have never for any other reason met.
You’re scared to death of what life might be like in a new place with new people for an entire semester. But, that’s good. If your dreams and plans don’t scare you, they aren’t big enough. And if your dreams aren’t what you’re chasing, then what are you doing? Not taking the opportunity to study abroad is to defy yourself of an all new world full of new experiences that may help shape you and your life. Go.