This past summer, my Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter were all flooded with posts from friends that went abroad. I saw countless pictures of landmarks I’ve always wanted to visit, decadent food, and the unique cultures of other countries. While I was sitting in my room back home, I got the sudden urge to travel everywhere. I caught the wanderlust bug, and I’m not the only college student who will tell you that she wants to book the next flight out of this country.
Studying abroad has been growing in popularity over the past few years, and college students have good reason to be drawn to these programs. Sure, being in college already gives us the independence from our parents that we’ve always wanted, but going to a whole new country with no familiar faces is a completely different experience of independence that we don’t get from anything else. We get to explore and learn as adults, but at the same time, we’re free of adult responsibilities that always come with traveling, such as taking time off work, and planning living and travel itineraries. We get the best of being both teenagers and adults, and there’s no other time other than our college years to take advantage of that.
Spending an entire semester alongside a diverse group of people that you’ve never met before also creates new friendships with people from different backgrounds. Aside from learning from the new country you’re in, you also learn a lot from the new friends you make. Whether they’re locals or also studying abroad, these friendships help you make the most out of your time abroad and will continue long after you return home. They share the same experiences with you from the very first day to the very last day, and they shape all the memories you will bring back with you.
Traveling is a pleasure that we’ve always loved, from family vacations during our childhood years, to roadtrips with friends as we got older. We’re curious. We’re ambitious. We’re at the prime of our lives where we want to see the rest of the world. And we have the opportunities to do just that. As Mark Twain once said, “Throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”