Fancy a Study Abroad year? Do it. It won’t let you down.
Having recently returned from 8 months of copiously drinking Tim Hortons coffee and Canadian beer at Carleton University, Ottawa, I have come back (forgive the cheese) as a more developed, mature and confident version of myself. Don’t get me wrong, whilst being abroad I have never been more challenged in my life, however my experience away is one I would happily do over and over again.
Studying abroad brings a series of benefits stretching from the more serious advantage of academic enrichment, to the more trivial of a cooler reputation on Instagram (when in doubt use X-Pro II). However, what I intend to convey is that for me my study abroad experience has definitely taught me a series of invaluable life lessons that I never would have discovered had I stayed in our small university town of Lancaster.
One of the most important benefits of studying in a foreign land is the vast variety of people you meet from all over the world. Not only do you exchange interesting stories and gain insight into each other’s lives, your social calendar explodes from weekend city breaks, to an invite to a house party two hours before. Saying ‘no’ to gatherings is out of the question (though I admit I did cave in a few times!) and so often it feels like your life runs at 100 miles an hour – quite literally if you want to get to that off-licence in time before it shuts ridiculously early on a Friday night. However, the international networks you create whilst being away are incredible and to be honest it feels pretty damn cool having the majority of your Facebook friends coming from all over the world.
Another perk of studying abroad is just how bloody good you become at time management! If you want to get that bus to Toronto on time, you need to get your studies squared away and often the impossible becomes the possible when it comes to hitting those deadlines. Essay in a day? No problem.
A further side effect of studying abroad is the incessant pining for wanting to travel again upon your return home. The travel bug hits you good and proper after being away and its only antibiotic is to plan and look forward to the next future adventure (as it so happens the dust hadn’t even settled on my passport and I went off interrailing for a month around Eastern Europe with one of my best friends). I have learnt that the world really is out there patiently waiting for us to explore it, and what a better time to do so as young adults before the real world of careers, families and mortgage payments hit us. I once heard at a gathering a fellow partygoer say ‘the world is our oyster’ and my word I now understand that it really, really is.
With this in mind, another thing I have greatly understood through my study abroad experiences is how important travelling and experiencing the world actually is. As our globe’s borders become ever more porous and the dividing lines we see on a map become less and less definite, experiencing one, two, or multiple cultures different to our own provides us with a deeper understanding of the world’s populace. The news we read, watch and listen is increasingly of a more globalized content, with stories originating from the four corners of the world brought to our home tabloids and affecting us in a way they never would have years ago. The knowledge gained from travel is indeed not a privilege but a requirement for future generations.
And so I hope this article has achieved my aim of getting you all to up sticks and study or work abroad for a period of time at some point in your lives. Considering this is coming from a person who owns varying shades of lipstick and who would never walk out the door without layers of mascara on my lashes, since being home I’ve ditched the red lippy for a travel guide, invested in a rucksack and find myself surfing the latest flight deals.
And so I reiterate. Study abroad – it won’t let you down.
By Emily Tarbuck
[Image Credit: Tim Shields]