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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at TCU chapter.

I’m not sure about you, but growing up I was constantly told to study abroad. GO GO GO. Seriously. It did not matter where or how long the trip was, I just had to go. In order to fully grow, I was told I needed to see the world. Luckily, my department was taking a trip to Sicily, Italy to study theatre for social change. As a person that believes that knowledge is the purest form of power you can have, the study part of the trip was enough to enamor me, and then add acting and performing in another country with some of my closest friends? I was in. Deep. I turned to my two other friends that had second thoughts and said, “I’m going,” and hit apply before even an ounce of anxiety set in.

The woman I look up to the most is my mother. She was a flight attendant when she was younger. With her profession and the pure fact that she truly is a lover of adventure, she started traveling the world at around the same time I would embark on my first time outside the United States. She set the importance of discovering the world outside your bubble, so you can imagine how long I had been waiting to travel the world just like she has. I called her, and when I was met with more excitement than I was feeling myself, I knew I was making the right choice. Eight weeks later, I was packing my big orange suitcase, eating three meals on a plane ride to Germany, and landing in Italy.

If you are one of those people that has not been told to study abroad, here I am telling you, go. While I could go on and on for ages I will leave you with just a few reasons why…

You learn more about yourself than you will EVER discover at home. 

How do you deal with conflict? How do you deal with changes in plans? Many more questions were brought to me that I assumed I knew about myself that I did not at all. You will truly be able to define your strengths and weaknesses and that gives you so much power. 

Your mental health is going to be significantly different and will teach you certain things you can implement back home to practice self-care.

I’ll be completely honest; I’m not sure what coping means. For me, I take a hot shower, start a new book, decide that’s not productive enough, stress out, work until I am overworked, and finally go to bed. Stress manifests into anxiety in a heartbeat with me, which is something I figured out in Italy. It wasn’t just a trip. I was studying abroad, which comes with stressing out over performances or assignments. Though they would overwhelm me for a small period of time, I quickly realized that I was never anxious. Whether it be asking me to communicate solely in Italian for the first time or walking through an alley I have never seen before, I never found myself in a position where I was nervous. This taught me how anxious-ridden American society is and how elsewhere, they understand what it means to enjoy life simply because you can. It was there I started having my mantra, “Find joy in the chaos,”. Before I studied abroad, I could not be giddy or excited because I had a huge test later that or because I had to perform the next morning and I was not prepared. I learned how to take life by the second and thus learned how to truly enjoy it. 

You will fall in love with yourself. 

Even if you have a bad trip, (I cannot imagine it but you could), you will look back and be able to say you jumped into a completely unknown experience and survived. Personally, I have never been out of the United States. When I was reassuring myself that I would be fine, the thing I told myself was, “If something miraculously makes this the worst time of your life, you made It out of the United States,”. You may fall in love with yourself physically and emotionally. I am not someone I would consider the “beauty standard” here in America, whereas in parts of Europe, I am. I am someone that struggles with how I am perceived on a daily, so hearing that somewhere in the world I am what people want to be perceived as made me realize how subjective beauty truly is. I also fell in love with WHO I am as a person. The things that make me tick, that make my eyes glow. My odd quirks and the quality of how I carry myself. Traveling alone taught me how I appear to those around me especially in scenarios when I did not and was not approached by strangers. I found a sense of power that I naturally have that I will never let go of. 

There is a sticker on my laptop that states, “If you are looking for a sign, this is it,”. If you are reading this, and you are looking for a sign, this is it. Go travel and let the anxiety and self-doubting thoughts throw you into the deep end. Nothing good comes out of your comfort zone. If I did not study abroad I truly think I would not be the same person I am today due to a deeper appreciation for myself, an understanding of how to have a little fun even when things get overwhelming, and being able to see outside of my bubble to truly understand that there is so much more outside of America. You should go see it yourself. 

Maddie Suttles is a BFA Acting major Pre-Law track at TCU! She loves anything Greta Gerwig, advocating for mental health, adventures, true crime, video games, and reading everything (follow her on good-reads)! As a 2w3, if you ever need a friend give her a call! Instagram: @maddiesuttles_