(photos courtesy of Chelsea- featured photo is a view of Lac Leman in Geneva from the Cathedral)
I read R.C. O’Leary’s article on this blog last week and identified with it greatly, not because I didn’t take the opportunity to study abroad (obviously) but because I agree with him so much. However, I’d like to expand on his assertions
For one thing, even though study abroad while in college is a spectacular idea not used enough by students, there’s still no reason to panic if you’ve finished school and haven’t gone overseas yet. I started my time living abroad in the fall after college graduation and have remained abroad, so it’s definitely still possible. I think the point is not to study/travel abroad while you’re in college, but rather while you’re young, and preferably in your twenties
Why in your twenties? Lots of reasons. You’re learning about the world and developing your own opinions on big topics, you’re probably not married or have kids to “hold you back,” and you’re in the prime of your life- the perfect time to be discovering new drinks and social settings and ways to get yourself in ridiculous situations (yes, those times are absolutely necessary for twenty-somethings!). But I would mostly argue that it’s smart to go in your twenties because once you start to put things off a little bit, they tend to get put off forever. R.C. O’Leary is lucky that he got a second chance, but most people don’t if they let that opportunity slip. My parents never even left the country before my sister planned a few family vacations abroad when I was still a budding teenager. If they hadn’t had a child with such wanderlust, they never would have made it abroad, despite their desire to. In fact, traveling by myself to meet her abroad for two summers is part of what assured me that I would be fine in my official move to Europe.
(the view from my house here)
There are so many opportunities to go overseas. Be it saving up to just travel around for the summer, to take summer language courses by immersion, or to get a job somewhere. There are lots of companies looking year-round for interns for three month terms, so you could even do some city/country-hopping with internships if you planned well. And if you have any contacts abroad that could help or give advice, talk to them! You would be surprised at the opportunities available in lesser-known fields or corners of the world. Yes, it does take a lot of organization, but it’s possible, and you’ll never regret the work put into it
I was tempted to not make my initial move to France because of my on-and-off again boyfriend at the time of my departure, but I felt in my gut that if I didn’t go just because of that, I would hate myself forever. And while it was extremely hard to deal with that situation, I’m so glad I came abroad. Don’t give yourself any excuses to not form the change; it won’t make or break relationships or goals unless you let it. My cousin moved abroad to India for one year despite having a serious boyfriend, but that didn’t stop him from proposing when she returned! Lucky gal! I have learned and grown so much, but more than that, I have met truly amazing people that I’m ecstatically happy to have known. I’ve done amazing things and traveled to beautiful places, and I’m not done
So, take that chance. Make those phone calls. Research the opportunities available. Make it happen. Even if it’s only for three months, it will be one of the best decisions of your life. The chances to learn about other cultures and ideas are endless, and personal goals and achievements are yours for the taking. Just do it!