Almost a year ago to the day, I flew back to America after six months of studying abroad. I spent my summer in Shanghai, China, traveled to Singapore for two weeks, and finished out 2016 studying abroad in Dublin, Ireland. This experience was the best and worst time of my life, and here are five reasons why.
1. You will probably gain weight.
Side effects of studying abroad may be more severe than the freshman fifteen. If you are a foodie like I am, you will want to try everything and anything that you encounter. It will lead to you outgrowing your clothes. All the empanadas, sushi rolls, and beef Guinness stews will be worth it.
2. Your wardrobe and wallet will have a couple casualties.
Speaking of clothes, those will probably get incredibly worn over the 4+ months you are abroad. You will use every setting on your washer and you’ll be lucky if you have a dryer. Don’t get me started on the shoes you wear for all day excursions. Sometimes you trip and your toes go through the front of your rain boot on the Giant’s Causeway. Other times you will miss a flight or get lost looking for your airBnB. You will learn to problem solve in the stickiest of situations., future you will be better off for it!
3. You will be uncomfortable.
You’ll do things you never envisioned for yourself. Some of those things you will love and cherish. Others you will hate and never want to do ever again. You will be pushed to think about cultural differences, the implications of colonialism, and your own personal biases. But then you’ll sit in awe of something that is universally breathtaking, and you will remember that for all its faults and tensions, humanity has done incredible things.
4. You will miss home.
Your friends and family will probably be hundreds if not thousands of miles away. It will suck, but maybe if you’re lucky like I was they will visit you. Or if you are even more lucky you will find a family abroad and a new home away from home.
3. You will never want to leave.
If you are anything like me, you would travel the globe forever, and you would just transports the comforts of home abroad. Unfortunately the world doesn’t work like that, and you will likely have to come back to the United States. You will likely take hundreds of pictures, and buy dozens of cheesy trinkets to remind you of the good memories. Thankfully that doesn’t mean you’ll never go back, and maybe the friends will come to you.
Overall it was an experience that I will never forget, and I was incredibly blessed to have had the opportunity to study abroad.