Thinking about doing a Study Abroad year?
I would 100% recommend anyone else to go for it. Obviously it depends on your situation. But if you have the option to go, have some money, get designated to a place you would not regret living in for a year, or have even slightly considered it then definitely.
Before university/up until a week before the Study Abroad deadline, I thought I wanted to do my degree, do a year in industry placement, finish and find a job and then settle into a comfortable life going through the motions… Then after loads of rejections from job applications, of not being able to get through the online assessments, or not even hearing back from anyone, I thought ‘hey why not apply for study abroad and see what happens’… I have always wanted to travel America, and always joked about moving there and what I would be like if I grew up there, etc. so why not apply! I had a week to sort out the paperwork to apply, and decide where my top 5 choices were to be, and then last minute I sent it off, and had to wait until Christmas time before I would hear back.
I was at home and found out that I had been placed at CSUMB in Monterey, California. YES California.. Perfect. Who would possibly in their right minds choose to now carry on hunting for jobs for a year in industry when I can go to California for the year which is literally a dream location. So that was me sold… No more job applications for now.
What are the downsides?
Yes, maybe I am now missing the lifestyle I had last year, and perhaps I am slightly sidetracked by these thoughts in my final year of university. Perhaps my focus is not solely on my studies right now, however in my second year I needed a break, I was stressed with all the work and I wanted a year out no matter what. So maybe if I had carried on into my third year who is to say that I might have been even more demotivated then after my year abroad. You can never tell, and my attitude right now is to go with the flow, take life as it comes, and don’t worry about the past or the future, just figure out what you need to do right now.
Again, depending on the person, and what situation you are in, some people do not enjoy their study abroad years because they haven’t met a decent group of friends, or maybe are concentrating too much at the fact they miss their home comforts and family instead of enjoying and making the most of the opportunity they have got to explore new places, or maybe they have a huge culture shock and do not realise the location that they have arrived at is very different to back home. But please bare in mind, that at the majority of locations you will be in the same boat as a lot of other international students and this is often who you will hang about with (for the start anyway). These are the people that are extra excited to be in a new place, will get thrilled about a simple thing like getting on the bus and going into the nearest town centre, because it’s new and exciting, and these are the people who will want to travel. Also, it is often very easy to make new friends in these environments.
What are the upsides?
Maybe I should have started with this one, but it is obvious if you have ever met anyone who has done a study abroad year, or followed someone who travels on instagram etc. you know that everyone looks like they are having the time of their lives. (But do not go by social medias unrealistic representation of peoples lives, I just meant look at the cool views you might be able to see).
I had the best year of a my life. (If you look at any of my other posts, and some future ones to come you will see I did a lot of travelling and spent a lot of time exploring as my college work was very easy and chill). I met so many amazing people that I keep in touch with, and now have contacts around the world that if I ever fancied going to Spain, Argentina, South Korea, etc etc. I will have someone who will happily show me around. Which is fabulous.
It has also opened my eyes a lot, I have a different outlook on life, it helped me to grow as a person and become more confident by being in new situations and places that I hadn’t been in before, without relying on parents or friends to do anything for me or guide me. I now want to travel some more and see what else the world has to offer, and find the best place for me to live that would suit me! It opens so many options, and ideas that are amazing!
The best thing to do is to get involved! No matter where you are, there are always events and clubs and things you can join to try new things and get to know more people. I went to a lot of give it a go type events, like taking part in a mountain bike ride, trying out sailing, but then I joined the Lacrosse team, which was another way of meeting new people. I felt part of a team and a family, and they were all amazing people, and I learnt a new sport and skill!
Or you could even try out new classes that you have never even considered taking before or even knew they were a thing! Take for instance my scuba diving classes! After practising in the pool and we were confident we knew the skills and required safety procedures we went into the sea every week. Doing amazing ocean dives, exploring the Monterey Bay kelp forests which I must add was breathtaking (and not just because I was underwater)!
So, all in all, I would personally recommend a study abroad year, as for everyone it means something different and you can learn and take away from it how much or how little you want. Good luck with your choices!
If you ever want to ask me specific questions about doing a study abroad year, or year in america, or anything in general just drop me a comment or a message!