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Why I Chose To Study Abroad

I’ve always been big on travel, or at least since I was in my early teens. Even when I was younger than that, I still loved getting out and discovering new places.

It was last January when I said I was fed up and needed an escape. (I blame first-year university stress and YouTube travel vlogs. Lots of travel vlogs.) I started to research different places, asked my mom if we could visit our family friend in the Bahamas in April, and we bought our tickets.

Booking that first trip somewhat spurred something adventurous in me.

Photo provided by Adenieke Lewis-Gibbs

In 2017 I revisited the Bahamas, got a taste of Mexico and backpacked for two weeks in Panama. Panama was the furthest I’ve been south, and my first ‘no parents allowed’ trip. I was hooked.

Fast forward to my second year of university; I had a lot going on and I was already looking forward to the summer. Should I work, travel, write, study, film, or exercise next summer? What was I going to to for those four summer months that would be both fun and beneficial for me and my future?

Then one day, the fateful email landed in my inbox. Journalism courses being offered in Italy, France and Spain. 

Why Spain?

I was taking Spanish at the time so I made Valencia, Spain my top pick and applied. Spain has always been a country I knew was beautiful, but it was never my top pick to visit. I didn’t know anyone else who’d been, so I just went out on a whim and applied.

I was very impulsive in choosing Spain over the other countries offered, and I think knowing the language played a huge part in it. I pride myself in knowing the few languages I do, and I think I would be afraid if I wasn’t able to communicate with the people around me. 

So comes the big question . . . 

Why now?

I think it was the perfect combination of many things that made me decide to study a journalism course abroad.

First, being smack in worst bit of a break-up and up for something spontaneous was one factor. Second was my huge fear of being bored in the summer. Even if I could afford to take a summer off, my friends work a lot so it’s always hard to keep busy. The last reason was for myself: I wanted to start building a unique portfolio.

Why study abroad?

Studying abroad gave me a range of skills I would have never gotten otherwise. I learned how to find stories and meet new people in a brand new environment.

Studying abroad, taught me a new way of life, immersing myself in Spanish language and into the Valencian community. I also gained innovative and effective journalism skills from a completely new set of professors.

Photo provided by Adenieke Lewis-Gibbs​

Studying abroad, I made a bunch of cool American friends who I still talk to today – six months later. I even made some European friends who I still regularly talk to. 

Journalistically, I’m most proud of one of my stories: I interviewed and profiled a local artisan jeweler only speaking in Spanish by myself. 

Most importantly, I am now able to show future international employers that I can join the work force away from the comforts of home. 

So, my question to you is not why, but why not?

Adenieke Lewis-Gibbs is a Journalism and French double major at Carleton. She enjoys photography, graphic design, and photo editing. She loves travelling, writing, and learning languages and hopes to combine the three in her future career. She is a repeat sustainability writer and a big fan of recycling -- properly.
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