Throughout the past year, I have been pondering the idea of studying abroad. Due to my love for traveling and meeting new people, my interest was sparked when I heard about how awesome Winona State’s study abroad and travel abroad programs are. However, the thought of studying in a foreign country with the likelihood of a problematic language barrier quickly put a negative spin on this idea. Therefore, just as any good Rori Gilmore imposter would do, I started to create a pro/con list of the perks and disadvantages of studying abroad in college. So far, I have found that the positives vastly outweigh the negatives. You may find it strange that I am writing about the positive aspects of studying abroad when in fact I have never actually studied abroad. However, I have traveled out of the country and have experienced what it is like to live fully submerged in an unknown culture. This leads into my first perk of studying abroad in college…

1. Experiencing a new culture

Submitted for the 2013 travel study contest by WSU student Darian Peterson who studied abroad in Mexico.

Submitted for the 2013 travel study contest by WSU student Darian Peterson who studied abroad in Mexico.

Studying abroad provides a unique opportunity for you to experience a different way of life. People all across the world engage in unique social activities, have diverse beliefs and customs, follow dissimilar daily routines, communicate differently and eat peculiar cuisine. Experiencing first-hand the different ways in which others live is a chance for you to find new interests and live a more culturally diverse life, too.

2. Seeing the world

Submitted for the 2013 travel study contest by WSU student Amanda Burgaff who studied abroad in New Zealand, along with these other students.

Submitted for the 2013 travel study contest by WSU student Amanda Burgaff who studied abroad in New Zealand, along with these other students.

When you go abroad, your eyes are opened to new ways of life, and you lose the U.S. centric mindset in which you have lived by your whole life. When you experience a different culture, see new terrains and experience the dissimilar ways people live their daily lives, you take on a new perspective of the world; a global perspective.

3. Meeting new people/make new friends

Submitted for the 2013 travel study contest by WSU student Kylee Homewood who studied abroad in Costa Rica.

Submitted for the 2013 travel study contest by WSU student Kylee Homewood who studied abroad in Costa Rica.

Typically, when you study abroad you stay with a host family. Doing so opens the doors to meeting new people and creating friendships that will last a lifetime. Also, when you choose to study in another country, verses just traveling there leisurely, you have the opportunity to sit in classes with many students your age. Having this opportunity makes it a lot easier to make friends who are the same age as you.

4. Learning a new language

Submitted for the 2013 travel study contest by WSU student Daniel Schmid who studied abroad in Shanghai, China.

Submitted for the 2013 travel study contest by WSU student Daniel Schmid who studied abroad in Shanghai, China.

I believe that everyone should, or at least attempt to, learn a second language. In fact, there are many benefits to learning a second language. A few of them are enhanced brain health, creating better job prospects, more opportunities for travel and leisure, and experiencing new cultures. Yes, it is extremely difficult to learn a new language and it requires much dedication and effort, but mastering a new language is an accomplishment to be proud of.

5. Gaining life experience (perfect to go before you get a job/career/family/etc.)

Submitted for the 2013 travel study contest by WSU student Elizabeth Murphy who studied abroad in Australia and New Zealand through the program Pacific Challenge.

Submitted for the 2013 travel study contest by WSU student Elizabeth Murphy who studied abroad in Australia and New Zealand through the program Pacific Challenge.

Overall, studying abroad in college is an opportunity to gain great life experience. Taking a semester to live abroad, away from your family and normal life, forces you to step outside of your comfort zones and really makes you grow as an individual. I have heard from many college graduates that their only regret in college is that they never studied abroad. They say they wish they had done it while they were in college because it is the perfect time in life to go. College is when you have the most freedom to go wherever you want before you get married, start your career, have a family, and so on.

Therefore, studying abroad in college has many perks and is definitely something that I would encourage you to look into for yourself. If you can, be sure to make every effort to seize this opportunity and gain life experience you will remember forever.

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If you don’t follow Winona State on Snapchat yet, add winonastateu and tune in for live snaps of traveling Warriors this week as they embark on their travel study adventures in Paris, Thailand, Spain, St. Croix and many more!

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Erin Kloepping

Erin is a Communications major with an emphasis in Leadership and Advocacy who is graduating in 2019. She is from Brodhead, WI and her interests include videography and foreign mission trips.

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