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The Real Reasons You Need To Study Abroad

Returning to campus after along winter break can be daunting for a sophomore. This is still within the timeframe where you are figuring out who your friends are, what academics and majors interest you, what clubs you want to invest your time in, and what your identity, or role on campus is. In the convoluted process of navigating these variables and feeling as though your school is finally becoming your home, it’s hard to think about packing up to go abroad for a semester. However, this is the time when you have to do just that. As deadlines for applications are quickly approaching, the idea of living abroad in a foreign country for an entire semester can be intimidating to some. Studying abroad is an incredible opportunity that every student should capitalize on. Here are five reasons you need to take a break from HWS and call a new city your home for a semester.

1. Get out of your comfort zone

Living in a foreign country, whether it’s a Westernized European tourist city or a remote village in Thailand, you will inevitably face times of uncertainty and discomfort. While it’s easy to shy away from these experiences, they should be recognized for their potential to challenge your comfort zone and learn more about yourself. Immersion into a foreign culture and its norms allows you to explore and gain a deeper understanding of yourself, as you face situations you have not had to deal with before, in a social, academic, economic, and political sense.


2. It’s a free vacation

By that, I mean that most study abroad programs are the same price as a semester of tuition, so besides personal expenses, it’s not costing you any more money than a semester on campus. Why spend another semester in a tiny college dorm room, eating meals at the same dining hall everyday, and going to the same parties every weekend, when you have the opprotunity to live in any country of your choice and explore a new city, its cuisine, nightlife and history, for the same price?


3. Hobart and William Smith will always be here for you when you return

You have eight semesters here at HWS. Although it can be really enjoyable, the semesters can also be a little repetitive as you get into habits and tendencies, both socially and academically. The school will always have another semester, the professors will generally teach the same classes, the sports teams will continue to play the same rivals, and the frats will hold the same fall and spring formals. But the chance to study abroad only comes around once, so don’t let it slip away for fear of missing out. You will be missing out on far more if you stay on campus.


4. Meet new people and gain new perspectives

Although college is a time where you’re constantly meeting new people, taking new classes, and having new experiences, at times the extent of these new things can only go so far. Once you form a group of friends, you generally get into a routine of spending time with the same familiar faces. While it’s great to have a solid group of friends, this comfort of familiarity can potentially be restrictive. By studying abroad, you meet an entire new group of people, from different backgrounds and with different perspectives. Not only will you form some amazing new friendships, but the new perspectives will help you learn about both yourself and other cultures. 


5. It’s the perfect time to leave whatever you may behind

This is the prime time live in a new country for a semester without the pressures and expectations of reality. As a junior (or whichever year you decide to study abroad) in college, you most likely don’t have a full time job or the true responsibilities of an adult. That is why this is the ideal time to travel and explore as you have the freedom to be on your own agenda for the entire semester. It is very rare that after college you will have four months to fly off to a foreign land to live and enjoy yourself.


Studying abroad can be intimidating for many people, especially those who find solace in familiarity and predictability. However, the chance to spend four months, or a year, in the country of your choice, living with other college students and exploring new and exciting cultures is an incredible opportunity. The effort and confidence required for studying abroad, both the process of applying and actually getting on the plane, are definitely worth the amazing experiences you will have while abroad. Sure, you may miss out on your favorite theme party, but in the grand scheme of things that one party pales in comparison to the entire semester of a lifetime.  

If this article has convinced you to study abroad, be sure to attend the general interest meeting coming up for Spring ’17!

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