Studying Abroad Changes Your Life!

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Sarah Laborde
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I have traveled abroad before, and I was able to see that the world offered more than just my small hometown in Louisiana. So when the opportunity arose to study abroad I DID NOT want to miss it. Through the honors college at my university, I had the chance to study in the U.K. at Oxford University — one of the most well-respected institutions of higher learning in the world. I encourage students to study abroad when the opportunity presents itself.

Studying abroad can be a life-changing experience. Discovering the cultures and customs of different nations gives a student a fresh perspective of the world.  A person’s experiences abroad can shape and mold them into well-rounded individuals who can connect and interact with people of many different backgrounds.

Academic experience abroad sets you apart. The first step in getting that great internship or landing your first job is to have a standout resume. The benefits of the global mindset a person gains from studying abroad are what bosses and businesses value, especially with today’s globalized economy.

I’ve put together a list of things I’ve learned to do or consider before studying abroad: 

  1. Know what you are getting into before you get on the plane – Keep an eye on political events and safety messages from the country you are going to. These happenings may affect foreign policy, currency or exchange rates, and the overall atmosphere of a country. Sign up with your nation’s embassy in the country you are traveling to, and stay up to date on current events.
  2. The time leading up to your program’s departure can be quite stressful – Constantly checking to see if the flight you booked four months ago is still confirmed; watching the pound to dollar exchange rate like a hawk to be sure you get the most out of what little money you have to spend; finding the right clothes to pack and the luggage big enough to fit everything you will need for the next month; all take a toll on what little sanity you have left from the previous semester.
  3. Don’t try to climb the mountain – On my program, we were allowed one free weekend, but climbing the tallest mountain in the U.K. may not be the best idea for someone who is not used to altitude change or much altitude at all (New Orleans, LA is BELOW sea level). Seeing Harry Potter and the Cursed Child would be AMAZING, but tickets DID NOT fit into my budget. Dream big because your study abroad should be a once-in-a-lifetime event, but be realistic.
  4. People > Places – Make an investment in the people you are studying with. Try to get to know at least one person from your group before your program starts. Having a friend to go to London with you for the day or to help you study for the next quiz is something everyone needs while in a foreign place. Find a buddy, and your experience abroad doesn’t have to end when you touch down back in the States.
  5. HAVE FUN!!! – Studying abroad is all about having an amazing encounter with different cultures and peoples. It should be FUN! Go explore the world, and soak up everything you can in the new and exciting places you will go.