10 Things I Learned from Studying Abroad – 1 Year Later
One year ago, I was traveling to Ireland with six other students that I would consider some of my best friends today. It was our second trip together. The first trip we went on was to Switzerland. I have always dreamed of going to Ireland because it’s where my ancestors were from. My grandma went to Ireland and had nothing but great things to say about it. We found cheap Ryan Air flights from Frankfurt to Dublin. We couldn’t pass up the opportunity to see the country.
After traveling to Ireland, I would travel to 10 other countries. France, Germany, Belgium, Hungary, Austria, Czech Republic, Portugal, Spain, Monaco, and Italy. In four months and 125 days, I would learn so much about myself, others, and the world. I would like to share with you 10 things I learned from studying abroad that will maybe inspire you to do the same.
- Seek Adventure and be open to new things
Being that it was my first time in a different country, I was pretty scared. I was unsure of what to expect. Prior to studying abroad, I hadn’t traveled much. However, I saw so many awesome opportunities to see the world that I couldn’t take up. With that being said, whenever my friends would say “hey I found this cheap flight to this place,” I would immediately say, “yes let’s go.” I was open to traveling anywhere I could experience other cultures. When I would travel to other countries, I was open to trying new foods. For example, when I was in Barcelona, I tried Paella. This is a famous Spanish cuisine; however, it’s not something I would normally eat.
2. Live in the Moment
When I say this I 100% mean live, breath, and feel each and every moment that you are in. Studying abroad, taught me the importance of being present. I believe that every moment in life you can’t get back. So, it is important to enjoy every second. There were a couple trips that I specifically remember feeling a need to be present. For example, when I was in Italy. One of my favorite places was Positano because of how “in the moment” it made me feel.
3. You are Strong and can Accomplish Anything
I think one of the biggest challenges I experienced, and you might experience is living in a country where you don’t speak the language. Prior to studying abroad, I had no knowledge of the French language. It was a struggle sometimes, but I did my best while being there to learn the language. A couple of other students in my group spoke pretty well French and they were super willing to help out which was nice. Also, I found that google translate is your best friend. We would use it wherever we went. Especially, when we would go out to eat. We would use it to read the menu.
4. Cherish the time you get to spend with family and friends
It was pretty tough leaving my family and friends. I definitely missed them the whole time. The six-hour time difference from Europe to the East Coast can be tough. I remember sometimes I would hate the mornings because I knew I couldn’t talk to any of my family or friends because they were sleeping. However, I learned that sometimes I would have to stay up late so I could catch up with them. After I came back, I felt more thankful for my friends and family. Going four months without them, made me cherish every second we got to spend after.
5. Patience is key
I would definitely say I learned how to be more patient from studying abroad. I say this because, a lot of times I was waiting. With traveling, you are waiting for flights, busses and trains. I spent a lot of time waiting for flights in airports. Sometimes there are delays so it’s important to be patient. One time, I had to spend the night in the airport waiting for a 5am flight. This will lead me into my sixth thing I learned from studying abroad.
6. Be Adaptable
I say this because I think it’s important to be able to adapt to any given situation. Also, I learned how to accept change. By being adaptable, I was able to be okay with sleeping in an airport for the night. It was much worth it because I got to travel to the beautiful city of Marseille. Another example of when I had to be adaptable was when I missed my train back to Strasbourg. I had to be okay with waiting for the next train.
7. Studying abroad is a great addition to your resume
I realized that studying abroad looks great on any resume. I’ve had so many questions about why I studied abroad and what I learned from it. I believe that all of the traits a person can have to be successful in a job can come from studying abroad. If you’re someone that wants to work for an international company, studying abroad is a great thing to put on your resume. Companies will know that you already have international experience. Finally, I think it can make your resume stand out from others.
8. Be aware of your surroundings
It’s important to always to have open eyes no matter where you. Even if you are in your hometown, you never know when someone could steal something from you. I say this because when I was in Paris, I had my wallet stolen out of my purse. Americans are especially seen as vulnerable targets for pickpocketing. But I honestly learned that this could happen anywhere. Even in the United States. Today, I always make sure I keep track of all my belongings. For example, when I’m in public, I never have my phone in my back pocket.
9. Stay true to yourself
Overall, I think it is very important to be yourself at all times. Yes, be open to new things, but always trust your gut. If something doesn’t seem right to you then don’t do it. I learned so much about myself from studying abroad. I encourage you to go outside of your comfort zone, but still stay true to yourself.
10. Travel More
The last thing I learned from studying abroad is that I want to continue to travel more. I would like to see more of the United States. The top places I would like to visit next are Seattle, Los Angeles, and Denver. Also, I would like to travel to Australia. I encourage you to travel when you can, in college, before you are limited by your career.
If you have any questions or comments, feel free to reach out to me on my social media!
Elizabeth is an ESC Strasbourg alumni and senior Strategic Communications major and Sport Communication minor at West Virginia University. She has a passion for social and digital media. During her time in Strasbourg, she was a Social Media Ambassador. She enjoyed traveling and sharing her experiences with pictures and videos on social.
Elizabeth traveled to 12 countries in four months. Her favorite part about studying abroad was the lifelong friends she made from the program. She encourages students at WVU to study abroad with the CEPA Program.
After graduation, Elizabeth plans to take a trip back to Europe to visit Strasbourg. Then she plans to work in Media Relations and Communications for a Minor or Major League Baseball team.