For the last blog entry of the semester, I thought it would be great to talk about how much learning can happen while studying abroad. For this entry, I reached out to several of my friends who have studied abroad and asked them to tell me what they learned about themselves from their time abroad. Here are nine things study abroad students said they learned about themselves from studying abroad:
1) From Kerry who studied abroad in Uruguay:
You learn about yourself in the sense you learn what things about you are "American" per se and other things you can easily let go to adapt to the new environment you're placed in. For example, something I really missed about the USA that I would say identified more to my life would be humor. I realized I'm way more sarcastic than most Latin Americans because they tend to be more sensitive. Now, on the other hand, with let's say music, or dancing, I was more than happy to not listen to english music for a whole semester and picked up on Uruguay style music in a heart beat. You leave to this new country thinking you're going to learn so much about the country but what you really end up learning more about is yourself!
2) From Anna who studied abroad in Australia:
I learned a lot about how other countries viewed Americans and how easily Americans get labeled when going abroad. I also learned to put a lot more faith in myself, that I can do things on my own and really how independent I can be!
3) From Kristin who studied abroad in Costa Rica:
I learned that I'm a lot more adventurous than I thought I was! I also learned that I was much more able to adapt to different circumstances than I thought I would be. I did not grow up camping or really spending much time outside, so as lame as it sounds, I was really nervous about bugs and anything related to nature, but I got really used to living in a house full of cockroaches and traipsing through the jungle for hours, it became my way of life, which was a cool transition to see happen.
4) From Callie who studied abroad in Australia:
I learned that you’ll always find at least one person who likes you for you, so it’s pointless to hide in a shell you make for yourself. I also learned that traveling by yourself isn’t too scary and can actually be quite liberating. It’s nice to be able to do what you want to do, so if you can’t find a travel buddy, don’t let that hold you back!
*The WIU Office of Study Abroad does not recommend traveling by yourself. If this is something you plan to do, check with your study abroad coordinator in your host country for safety tips or places to avoid.
5) From Catherine who studied abroad in France:
I learned to enjoy spending time alone. In the US, I was constantly with friends/roommates/family. In France, I was in a single dorm room, and I had to find ways to entertain myself that didn't involve others. Some of my favorite memories of studying abroad involve wandering around Nantes by myself with no plan, no time constraint, and just myself for company.
6) From Stephanie who studied abroad in Australia:
About halfway through my semester abroad was the first time in my life that I was really homesick, which was unexpected. When I didn't have the option to go home on breaks or weekends, when just scheduling a Skype call was complicated because of the time difference, when I missed my little brother's high school graduation...it finally resonated with me how much the people back home meant to me and that in spite of my stubborn independence, it's ok to need other people.
7) From Katie who studied abroad in Spain:
I would say that one of the biggest things I learned was not to take myself so seriously. I made tons of mistakes with the language and with the Spanish culture. At the beginning, it bothered me all the time, but eventually I just learned to take it in stride and move on, both learning from it and letting it go. This growth allowed me to truly enjoy my time in Spain and not get caught up in the little things
8) From Charlie who studied abroad in Australia:
I learned just how much of a change can take place in a person's outlook during the course of a semester abroad. My close friend came with me to Australia, and during the first couple weeks she had convinced herself that she needed to buy a return ticket back to the states immediately. She persevered, and by the end of the semester, she didn't want to leave. She actually lives in Australia now!
What are you waiting for?? Come in to the Office of Study Abroad to start the process of a journey of a lifetime that allows you to learn so many different things about culture, school, and yourself!