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Why Everyone Should Study Abroad

When I first went to college I was bombarded with questions about studying abroad. I always knew I wanted to travel, but I never considered leaving college for a whole semester. Now even after just being abroad as a student for two whole weeks, I definitely think every student should take the opportunity to study abroad if it is presented to them.

I was told that living and studying abroad would be a life changing experience, and I always just thought that was an exaggeration….until I actually lived here. My first week of college a professor told us “get comfortable with being uncomfortable” and that phrase has been on my mind constantly while abroad. From the moment I stepped off the plane I was 100% taken out of my element. I had never even lived in a city before, and now I was placed in one of the most beautiful and historic cities in the entire world where everyone around me is speaking a language that I can not understand. 

College is such a sheltered life and a safe bubble that gives you a taste of the real world, but studying abroad is the real world. I live in an apartment in the heart of Rome with six other students. My neighbors are actual Italian people that are adults with real jobs and lives. I commute to my classes on buses with other Italians who are starting their days. I can travel on the weekends, and I am responsible for all my own meals and there is no dining hall I can run to whenever I want. 

Studying abroad pushes you to your limits. You are taken away from everything comfortable and familiar to you. I feel more mature in just two weeks, and I feel as though I am finally becoming comfortable with being uncomfortable. I have adjusted to being on a bus crammed with people all speaking a language I can’t understand. I have adjusted to walking on cobblestone roads and having vespas coming at me from every direction. I learned that I have an “American” face and that people know I am American right away. I learned that so many of my issues that I think are a big deal really are not that big of a deal. I learned to budget my finances and I feel as though I am more prepared already for life after college.

Yes, there is also the bonus to studying abroad that you can travel on the weekends and that you have so much freedom, but students should study abroad also because they will grow so much as a person. I have been taken so far out of my element in just two weeks that I can only imagine how much I will be challenged and grow within the next three months. 


Mikaela Benny is a junior native of Northern New York at Hobart and William Smith Colleges. She is currently pursuing a double major in Media & Society and Writing & Rhetoric. When not reading or writing, you can usually find her anywhere on campus watching some kind of sport, preferably football or hockey though.
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