Abroad Changes You: How I've Grown this Term
To say that time flies is an understatement. As I prepared for my final exams and started packing to head home for the holidays, I found myself reflecting on a cliché Dartmouth phrase I had heard numerous times before I began this term: "Abroad changes you". As I boarded my flight from Toronto to Edinburgh at the beginning of September, I couldn't help but wonder if this was a witty remark or a warning? Here I am, three months later, with a month left overseas, and I undoubtfully know this is true. As I reflect on my time spent in Europe, I am most thankful for the lessons that I have learned outside of the classroom and I can't help but smile when I think this exactly what Dartmouth means through their message of "experiential learning".
Being away from my closest friends and family has taught me the importance of spending time with myself. When you're caught up in the daily routine of class, practice, and homework, you're constantly around people. This term has allowed me to take time to remove myself from the daily bustle of interaction and become more comfortable with my solitude. Self-care is extremely important, especially in college, and over this term, I have learned how to properly incorporate that into my schedule.
Being abroad has made me more independent. When you land in a foreign country for a weekend vacation and you don't speak the language, it's easy to feel scared and somewhat deserted. Learning how to better communicate with other people and explore their cultures through solo travel has helped me develop a better understanding of myself. Knowing that it is okay to eat alone at a restaurant and walk by myself to class has shown me confidence that will no doubt be important when I live by myself after college.
Lastly, I've seen things and experienced things that have not doubtfully attributed to who I now am. From learning the importance of supporting a local economy by buying a handmade souvenir in Croatia, to walking through the horrific grounds of a concentration camp in Poland, I have learned about the world in ways I never thought was possible.
Should you study abroad? In my opinion, yes. Do it for the challenging classes you'll take and the new friendships you'll make, for the mouthwatering food you'll taste and breathtaking places you'll visit. But above all, do it for yourself.