|Castle Howard -- Located north of York, England|
Castle Howard was one of the last places I visited before coming back home after my study abroad experience. Looks amazing, right? What if I told you that you could see amazing places like this if you chose to study abroad? If you're anything like I was, you're shaking your head right now, already convinced that it's not possible. Before I studied abroad, I never imagined that I would see things like Castle Howard with my own eyes, or take pictures of them myself rather than viewing them on my computer screen. That's because I allowed my fears to confine the limits of what I could do. That way of thinking almost cost me a journey of a lifetime.
By studying abroad, I went from never having traveled beyond California to having traveled to five different countries, all in six months. I had to learn to navigate these countries, and for some their official language, pushing me in ways that I would not have experienced at home surrounded by my familiar culture and lifestyle. By doing that, I saw so many wonderful things. Here are just a few out of many:
|Big Ben -- London, England|
|Fountains Abbey -- England|
|Glen Coe -- Scotland|
|Eiffel Tower -- Paris, France|
|Leaning Tower of Pisa (left) and the Trevi Fountain (right) -- Italy|
|Cliffs of Moher -- Ireland|
Studying abroad isn't easy. Every person who studies abroad puts themselves into a place of discomfort and uncertainty. But everyone who studies abroad grows as a result of stepping out of their comfort zones, gaining a confidence that they can then utilize as they face future obstacles. It also cultivates new skills and solidifies previous abilities.
Studying abroad increased my determination, flexibility, and resilience. More importantly, it solidified the self-belief that I could adapt to any new situation. That I could step out of my comfort zone to grow as a person. I used to feel pretty limited, like I could only go so far. That's because I allowed myself to be confined to my comfort zone. Now that I have pushed past the barriers that were holding me back, and have gone to countries I had only dreamed about, I feel like I can go wherever I dream of traveling next. Studying abroad gave me the travel bug: the desire to travel to as many places as I can so I can learn more about the world and the people in it, and more about myself along the way.
I know I would have regretted not studying abroad. I would have always wondered, "What if?" It's cliche, but true. You never want to look back on life and wonder how things might be different if you had seized an opportunity, if you hadn't let fear get in the way. Part of living life to its fullest is moving past your fears so you can take those opportunities and see where they take you. Studying abroad will open doors for you that you never knew existed. And the best part about studying abroad is that everyone gains different lessons that shape them for the rest of their lives.
So please: don't let your fears stop you. Let them motivate you to get you to where you want to be. If you have the desire to see the world, take the opportunity to study abroad and do it. Move past your comfort zone and let yourself grow from the experiences and lessons you gain from studying abroad. Studying abroad will help you realize that you can move past your comfort zone time and time again, and each time will be a reminder that you can do anything you set your mind to.
|Reflections in the River Arno -- Florence, Italy|