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Deciding to go abroad was one of the most challenging decisions I have had to make in a long time, and I never expected it to be this difficult. 

When applying to colleges, I wouldn’t even look at their application if they didn’t have an abroad program – it was a dealbreaker for me. But, when I was applying to schools, COVID-19 wasn’t a threat, and I didn’t realize I would miss out on three semesters of a normal college experience. 

After many pro-con lists and a lot of conversations, I decided to study abroad. Nevertheless, this was one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever made, but I am confident I made the right one. 

I talked to so many people before I came to my decision, and they all said the same thing, “You need to decide for yourself. No one can make this decision for you,” and that stuck with me. They were completely right.

It’s an opportunity you Won’t have again.

Going abroad is most people’s favorite part about college and one that you can’t do again. Yes, you can travel when you graduate. However, it isn’t the same as studying abroad. When you travel, you are a tourist. But, when you live there and learn about the culture, it’s an entirely different and surreal experience. When studying abroad, you get the opportunity to immerse yourself in this new world.

You get to be in another place/country you most likely have never been before and live there for 3-4 months. What’s not to love about that?

When else are you going to get the chance to be somewhere ~exoctic~ for that long of a time period with a bunch of kids your own age? Probably never. You get to explore whatever place you decide, and every weekend you can travel to a new place. This allows you to truly immerse yourself in the new culture rather than just visiting for a week or two. Every day can be something new and exciting. You walk around the same campus every day for eight semesters; imagine walking on campus abroad somewhere for one of those eight.

It’s an amazing career opportunity and looks great on a resume.

Going abroad can make you stand out when applying for jobs. It’s an amazing opportunity to get exposure to more cultures and learn new things. You can network while you are there and even possibly secure an internship. You are living and learning at the same time, an opportunity you probably won’t ever get again. Studying abroad makes you much more adaptable and flexible – you learn to navigate a new school, place, and social situation all at once.

Personally, I decided to go to Milan, Italy, the fashion capital of the world. Since I want to be in the fashion industry, it is even more of a reason for me to go. There are so many career opportunities when you go abroad; it would be silly not to take advantage. 

You Get to be truly independent.

For me, I don’t have a lot of friends going abroad. To be honest, that is what was holding me back from going. However, you can’t let people be the reason that you don’t jump on this opportunity.

Going abroad is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and even doing it on your own would be just as rewarding. So many people go by themselves, and it’s a chance to learn more about yourself. You get to experience the challenges of living somewhere completely different from your normal and gain a greater understanding of the world. Studying abroad forces you out of your comfort zone. 

you get to Make new friends. 

They say the friends you make abroad are going to become your lifelong friends. Even if you don’t have a lot of people you know going, like me, you are going to make so many new friends you can travel everywhere with. The memories and experiences you share with these people will last forever and could be the best of your college experiences.

pisa jumping
Original photo by Alice Grenier
You can take classes you can’t take at home.

When abroad, the class opportunities are endless. Personally, I will be taking classes such as cooking and fashion merchandising: classes that wouldn’t be the same here at Penn State. I am so excited to explore all of the exciting class opportunities in Milan, ones that I would never be able to take if I didn’t go. 

greece santorini travel adventure sunset
Jackie Ryan / Her Campus

Going abroad is such an amazing opportunity yet an extremely scary one. Am I terrified to go? Yes. However, I am more excited for the opportunities that await once I arrive in Italy in the Spring. I know it is going to be an experience I will never forget or regret doing. 

Studying abroad is a life-changing experience that can shape you, and I believe everybody should consider it. Take it from me, who couldn’t have been more torn. Looking back, I have no regrets about hitting that accept button on my application. 

Communications, Sophomore
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