My husband says that I’m obsessed with all things British. If you take a look around my apartment, you’d probably support his claim. In my bedroom I have one poster advertising an exhibit at the Victoria and Albert Museum and another poster of the Millennium Dome. So I probably am a little obsessed.
My obsession stems from the semester that I spent in London as part of a study abroad program through the University of Missouri. I spent four months living in a tiny flat with three roommates, commuting on the Tube (that’s subway in British lingo) to and from my internship at a publishing company, and taking weekend trips to the Netherlands, Paris, and Scotland.
Picking up and leaving your school and friends for a semester or two can be an intimidating prospect. Believe me: it’s worth it. Here are just a few of the benefits of studying abroad:
- Making a different city your home. By living somewhere for an extended period of time, you’ll eventually stop feeling like a tourist and start acting more like a native.
- Understanding how other cultures view Americans. When you study abroad, you’ll be forced to deal with the stereotypes that people have about Americans. My supervisor at my internship believes that all Americans are incredibly wasteful, so she spent a good five minutes lecturing me about using both sides of the paper in the copy machine.
- Becoming an international citizen. I lived in a major international city, where I was exposed to many more cultures than just the British. London has a large population of people of Indian descent, for example. Plus, when you travel, you can’t help but learn about major international issues, such as the European Union. You have to understand that just to make it through customs.
- Learning from the other students around you. Although my program was limited to Americans, I learned a lot about life as a British college student through interaction with residents of London.
- Traveling extensively. I don’t recommend traveling every weekend that you’re studying abroad because then you don’t get to appreciate your host city. Places that once seemed far away, however, are a short plane ride away. Can you say weekend trip to Switzerland?
- It takes a certain kind of person to enjoy the study abroad experience. If you’re good at adapting to new situations, enjoy traveling, and can easily appreciate other people’s point of view, then study abroad could be a great opportunity for you.
For additional information on study abroad programs, visit the following sites:
StudyAbroad.com Search a variety of study abroad programs by country, length of stay, language, or subject.
STA Travel STA is a travel agency with worldwide locations for students. Check the site for information on flights, hotels, train tickets, tours, and insurance.
GoAbroad.com You can search this site for information on work or internships abroad, in addition to study abroad programs.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Web site hosts a travelers’ health section with information on health restrictions for a particular country. You can find out what kinds of vaccines you’ll need before you leave, too.