Thursday, March 22, 2012

Why I'm Studying Abroad and You Should Too!

By Sydney Bennett

Since I was younger I was always interested in traveling and learning about different cultures. Quite naturally I decided to minor in Sociology because the behavior and minds of people just fascinates me. Sometimes I feel like there are pieces of my heart scattered across distant lands. Even though, I have not traveled extensively yet, looking at images and learning about how different countries function is very interesting to me. So, when I learned about studying abroad prior to attending college, I knew that it was something I had to take advantage of. I am currently in the process of applying for a study abroad trip in May. It's exciting and scary all at the same time. I wanted to share a few reasons why I think studying abroad is a good idea, to encourage others who are thinking and maybe even overly convince myself. :-)

1. There's a lot of support. Here at Saint Xavier, we have Colleen who is so passionate about studying abroad and willing to talk to any student about taking the opportunity. As someone who has studied abroad in college, she is able to offer practical tips. Also, people in the programs are often enthusiastic and really want foreign students to join their program. From the little experience that I have had, someone contacted me as soon as I started my application, even though I wasn't finished. This type of support is needed, especially if you may not have it from other family or friends. My family was little apprehensive when I told them I wanted to go abroad, so any type of enthusiasm and inspiration I could get from staff really inspired me to take a leap!

2. I remember reading a quote that said, "Do something that scares you everyday". It's so important, especially in college to challenge yourself to break out of your norm. There are so many opportunities for us to become more knowledgeable and cultural, studying abroad is just one. Leaving your own country and going to one, especially that speaks another language is scary, let's face it. But that's what life is about. Life is an adventure, go on one. We're often surprised at how brave and capable we really.

3. Financially this may also be one of the best times to go. A few adults told me to go before I have real financial responsibilities. While I am in college and can travel while taking a class allows me to get financial aid through scholarships and loans. An investment in your dreams is a good one and so I don't regret taking out a loan at all. I am also applying to a scholarship my program offers. I will say that the longer you go the more scholarship funds may be awarded to you!

4. It may spark a career interest for you or just build your resume. There are plenty of opportunities to take a foreign language class, take an internship, or volunteer your time to a good cause while abroad. Any of those experiences could spark something in you that you carry even after college.

5. Last reason, I want to go because it's fun! There are chances to do exciting things you could never do at home. There are often travel opportunities to go to nearby cities and countries. Go!

When I get back from my trip, I will write a blog to see if all these reasons were worth it, I'm sure they will be :-) If you have any study abroad tips or experiences please share in the comments section.

Sydney Bennett is a junior from Chicago, Illinois. She is a Mass Communications major with minors in both Sociology and Art & Design. She is President of Ambassador's for Christ(AFC) and a member of their Gospel choir at Saint Xavier.

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