Our view: Traveling outside your comfort zone

DKS Editors

Kent State study abroad coordinators say many students are choosing these days to study abroad or away in English-speaking countries, but they are hoping to see students start traveling to more unusual places.

“The less popular programs outside of Europe can provide more integration that is perhaps more beneficial for students who truly apply themselves to that experience,” study abroad and exchange student adviser Nick Vasiloff told the Daily Kent Stater.

Among the members of this editorial board, three have done study abroad or study away programs, and we know from experience that studying abroad anywhere — English-speaking or otherwise — can be a culture shock, and a good one at that. It is still fun to visit another country and stay with English-speaking people and sample the local culture and food without going outside one’s comfort zone.

But it is undeniable that going somewhere very different from the United States or forcing yourself to learn another language can be much more enriching. It can be really exhilarating to pick up on a few phrases in a new language or talk to locals about their culture. Forcing oneself to communicate with locals in their own language is really the respectful thing to do in a lot of cases; as a visitor, it’s only fair.

In addition to the other benefits of studying abroad, First Lady Michelle Obama recently promoted its marketable aspects.

“More and more companies are realizing that they need people with experience around the world,” Obama told CNN in an April 4 story.

Overall, while any study abroad experience is going to be transformative for most people, Kent State offers more unusual experiences that we think more students should take advantage of. If people want to speak English and go to Americanized bars, it’s best to just stay home — foreign countries are meant for amazing adventures.

The above editorial is the consensus opinion of the Daily Kent Stater editorial board.