When I was in high school, I would ask college students and recent graduates what they liked most about school and what they regretted about their experience. It was simple enough, and it gave me a decent idea of what people actually valued during their four years as an undergraduate. In these conversations, one topic stood out above the rest: study abroad. People who went couldn’t stop raving about it, and those who didn’t often cited it as a regret.
Fast forward to spring semester of my sophomore year. I had always assumed that study abroad was going to be a part of my college experience, but I never did any significant planning towards actually doing it. Then, I kept saying “yes” to work on projects or boards without realizing the implication: I was going to have to stay on campus the entirety of my junior year. It happens. There was even a period of time when I questioned whether or not this was such a bad thing. I mean, I was enjoying myself on campus. I loved the work I was doing and signed up to do. I loved being with all of my friends on campus. There was a part of me that didn’t want to miss out on that for a whole semester.
However, I knew I needed to study abroad. Emphasis on need. And I needed to prioritize it. So starting my summer before junior year, I began to plan a study abroad experience for the fall semester of my senior year. Unorthodox, sure, but not unheard of. And I really needed to do it, because the more I thought about it, the more I recognized that there truly is no other time in my life I could have a trip quite like it.
Fast forward to today. I’ve got one week until the deadline for study abroad fall semester. I’ve lined up my top locations (Hong Kong and Sweden) and have everything submitted except for a pesky 250-word essay. And I’m excited. Super excited. I can’t wait. But, I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t a nervous excitement. I’ll be travelling in foreign lands for 4+ months where English will be a second language (at best), with new and strange foods, cultures, experiences, and people. It’s going to be a lot. But I need to do it. Emphasis on need. Talk soon.