Why you should study abroad

From sunny skies and 95 degrees to rainy and windy 65 degrees, the unpredictable weather in Ohio hasn’t failed us during the first two weeks of classes. Are you in need of a change of pace? A change of place? It’s time to get out of Ohio and expand your horizons.

There are many reasons that students should utilize this amazing opportunity.

According to St. Augustine, “The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.”

Last spring I went on a study abroad called Semester at Sea.

It wasn’t an ordinary study abroad experience. Rather than living in one country, I lived on a ship among 600 other students and 100 staff, faculty members and life-long learners—from across the country and around the world.

We embarked in the Bahamas, stopped in 11 countries and ended in San Diego.

From the Bahamas the ship went to a small island in the Caribbean, Dominica. Then we went 1,000 miles down the Amazon River deep into Brazil; across the Atlantic Ocean to Ghana; South Africa; Mauritius; India; Singapore; Vietnam; China; and Taiwan. After 3.5 months I had circumnavigated the world.

Top five realizations and ways studying abroad has helped me:

1. “The greatest difference between voyages rests not with the ships, but with the people you meet on them.” Amelia E. Barr

It’s the people that matter, not the places. One of the greatest realizations I had after stopping in the first country was how important people are in your life, how necessary it is to connect with others. What I got to see in the countries wasn’t my priority. The people I was traveling with and the people I met in the countries had the greatest impact on me. I now have contacts with people across the states and around the world: life-long friendships and connections.

2. “Travel can be one of the most rewarding forms of introspection.” Lawrence Durrell

Before studying abroad I was told by others how it changes you—how you grow as a person. Throughout my semester, I remember how much I kept digging deep inside myself trying to find answers to my own questions: Who am I? Where do I belong in this world? What should I be doing with my life? What matters in my life? You can go into the study abroad experience thinking you’re one person and come out the other end with all these great inner-discoveries—things you may not have ever realized about yourself back home.

3. “We must go beyond textbooks, go out into the bypaths and untrodden depths of the wilderness and travel and explore and tell the world the glories of our journey.” John Hope Franklin Franklin

There is no greater experience than to step outside the classroom, away from your textbook and learn firsthand. I took an art history class while on the ship and was able to visit the Buddhist temples in India we had been seeing day after day on slideshows in the classroom. To actually see them in person was incredible.

4. “I think wherever you go becomes a part of you somehow.” Anita Desai

I was able to see just how connected everyone is. The people. Economies. Governments. Everything. The world seems so much smaller to me now and I feel more involved and aware of my surroundings.

5. “A man travels the world in search of what he needs and returns home to find it.” George Moore

I grew up in a really small town in upstate New York. There were so many things about the small-town atmosphere I had learned to hate and couldn’t wait to move away. Although I am antsy to travel again now, while studying abroad I realized how much I appreciated things at home too. Familiar surroundings, family, friends—the basic comforts of home—you need to come back to them from time to time.

I’ve been back in the states for four months now and I am still processing, reflecting and adjusting. Whether it’s from a conversation with someone, hearing about something in the news, seeing a picture, or daydreaming in class, there isn’t a day I haven’t been reminded of my experiences. They will be carried with you throughout your entire life.

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” Mark Twain

So why wait? Check out the study abroad fair, talk to your adviser and get to know the Office of Global Education. It will change your life.

Contact Chloe Makarick at [email protected].