Photo by Natalia Salas
If you go to Trinity, you’ve probably heard the study abroad spiel. You know, the one where faculty, staff and students tell you about how beneficial and life-changing it is. Well, if you were ever on the fence about participating in a study abroad program and those reasons didn’t persuade you, allow me to take a moment to hopefully be the final push.
So far, making the decision to study and participate in an internship program abroad has been the most significant (and best) decision I’ve ever made. Those who tell you that studying abroad is a life-changing experience aren’t lying. Those who tell you that it’s an easy thing to do are. It is definitely hard at times to be so far away from the comfort and familiarity of wherever you call home. Continuously getting out of your comfort zone for a whole three to four months, however, is undeniably worth it.
It’s also exhausting, frankly, especially if you travel during your semester abroad. During my regular school year, traveling is a rare occasion. As far as I’ll usually go is back home to Houston. That couldn’t be more different from the semester I’ve had abroad. More often than not, students abroad explore a new city almost every weekend.
Spending an entire semester running around, going from planes to trains to buses to subways to cars — most of the time at ungodly hours — really does take a lot out of you. The getting up at 4 a.m. to make a long trek to the airport by 6 a.m. to get on a flight by 8 a.m., only followed by a full day of exploration of a brand new city until late, and then to do it all over again just one or two days later is, to put it simply, kind of a lot. However, as I previously mentioned, it’s absolutely worth it.
I will admit that I sometimes had to remind myself that it is a study abroad, not a “lollygag in London for four months” program. There is something to be said, however, about the inevitable learning that happens when you find yourself aimlessly wandering around a city that you may have only ever seen in pictures. As for the actual homework part, at the risk of sounding presumptuous, I’d much rather be doing homework on a train back from a weekend trip to Edinburgh, for example, than pretty much anywhere else.
If you fear missing out on what goes on back home for a semester, don’t. It’s obviously not as simple as that, especially for those of us who are just a bit self-centered and may or may not have expected the world to stop when we left. Life at Trinity goes on, life wherever you live outside of Trinity goes on, and that’s OK. I predict that when I get back home and start the second semester back at Trinity, I’ll more likely have a fear of missing out on the rest of the world than I did at any point this semester.
An important factor when considering an abroad program is the financial burden. There is the cost of flights, of course, but a cost that I think a lot of us don’t think to consider is that of not working for a whole semester. Many of us leave behind some kind of income from a job when we go abroad, but have many more opportunities to spend at our finger tips. I’ll admit that this semester has consisted a lot more of spending money than it has of earning it. Thankfully, Trinity makes study abroad extremely accessible for students, and I highly encourage you to speak with an advisor in the study abroad office right away about any concerns you may have.
Studying abroad definitely has its ups and downs. In fact, during orientation here, we were shown a graph that mapped out the most common points in which students might feel the highs and lows during their time abroad. There are, believe it or not, significant fluctuations in said graph. The growth in independence and cultural awareness that you can gain from a semester abroad, however, is enough to outweigh every single reason not to.