A few weeks ago, I listened in on the live feed of the White House Travel Blogger Summit in Washington D.C. (I basically invited myself), and I was inspired to write a post on the importance of studying abroad at ANY age. The folks over in Washington D.C. were discussing the benefits of having young students travel and study abroad, but what my new favorite travel blogger, Paula Froelich (who also happens to be the editor and chief of Yahoo Travel), pointed out was that it is also equally as valuable for people who aren’t students to travel the world as well.
If you’ve been following my blog since the beginning, you’ll know that I went to graduate school in London, UK, and during that time I traveled to over 17 different countries within the course of 2 years alone.
Now, I am quite aware that I’m extremely privileged to have gotten the opportunity to travel that much by the ripe age of 25 (I’m now 26, and have since added another country to my list), and I am aware that there are a plethora of reasons as to why people feel that they shouldn’t and/or cannot travel (lack of money, fear, discomfort, etc.). I am someone who believes that your life is what you make it, and your outer circumstances don’t create your reality, you do. However, that’s a whole different topic for perhaps another blog post (leave me a comment below if you’d like me to write a post about my thoughts on that particular issue).
I did write a similar post to this called, “Why Traveling Is Always a Good Idea,” but this one specifically relates to studying abroad. For me this means not necessarily taking an academic course in a new country, but going somewhere new with the specific intention of learning. Many people travel for the purpose of a vacation, which is definitely necessary, especially in the world that we live in where people are so stressed out most of the time. We all just need to take a break once and a while, and I totally get that. However, I personally believe that every so often, its also important (no matter what age you are) to get out of your comfort zone and travel somewhere that will completely expand your horizons.
When I went to London, I went to learn. I not only wanted to learn more about choreography and dance, which is the subject of my master’s degree, but I also wanted to learn about new cultures. I went into that experience with the mindset of wanting to learn as much as I possibly could. When I returned back to the States, I felt like a new person. Not only did I notice a difference within myself, but people around me noticed it as well. One comment I received from my mom was, “It’s like you just woke up.” I mean, I’m hoping that I wasn’t “asleep” for the first 24 years of my life, but in a sense, I do agree with her. Seeing that many different places and cultures has allowed me to change a lot of my beliefs and habits as well.
Perhaps a challenge for yourself in 2015 is to expand your own horizons by “studying abroad.” If you are a student, take the opportunities you have with your school or university, and just go for it! If you’re well past your academic days, then go somewhere you’ve never been before and completely submerge yourself in the culture! Learn about their food, history, traditions, language, social behavior, politics, daily routines, etc.. There are an endless amount of possibilities, and who knows, you might even be lucky enough “wake up” just like I did!
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