Studying Abroad: New Experiences, Adversities, and Outlooks

Studying abroad can seem like a walk in the park before you actually do it. For Ashley Antonio, a junior biology major at Seton Hall, this was something she realized as she embarked on her journey to Seville, Spain for the Fall semester of 2018.

Antonio said she always thought she wanted to go abroad. New experiences, challenging her independence in traveling solo, and seeing what it was like to live in a country with a completely different culture enticed her.

As she fantasied her upcoming travels, she expected everything to smoothly fall into place in her new city. However, she soon came to face that these amazing experiences came along with some challenges. She says that her biggest adversities were having to learn a new language and navigate throughout a foreign environment.

“When things don’t go smoothly, you have to be flexible and prepared to change your plans quickly. Your parents aren’t with you anymore and you have to tune into your street smarts," Antonio offers. She also adds that there might be so much you want to see, but you must choose wisely in your limited time, as to not over work yourself. She stresses the importance of planning and budgeting in a semester abroad.

Antonio was able to visit eight different countries in a three-and-a-half-month span. Out of all places, her favorite was Ireland.

Most of her travels brought her to larger, metropolitan cities so the countryside was a refreshing change. This week long trip, planned all by herself was a success. She began with uncertainty as her travel partner for the week was someone she had not spent much time with before. However, the two ended up being great friends who made countless memories she cherishes so deeply now. Antonio reminisces on Ireland as all together just beautiful and being an amazing end to her study abroad experience.

Some advice she would offer to students interested in studying abroad is to do what you want to do because this is your experience and no one else’s. She says being homesick is common but never let it stop you from trying new things. If you feel stuck and want to go home, you still must push yourself and put yourself out there. Nothing good is going to come from your experience if you stay at home. This is something, she says, can be applied to anything in life. All in all, Antonio feels humbled by all her amazing experiences.

“You meet so many people in different places that seem so foreign, but you learn that were all pretty much the same,” Antonio says.