It is important to reflect on what you will bring home when considering whether or not to study abroad. Other than the obvious suitcase filled with keepsakes and the outrageous number of photo albums on Facebook, you are guaranteed to take home life-changing experiences which will be applied to the rest of your time in college, your future career and all other aspects of your life. Studying abroad is an experience of a lifetime that you will continue to use long after landing on American soil.
For starters, studying abroad exposes you to new experiences, people, attitudes, and a whole new way of life. Everyday life in Granada has taught me more about the culture, history, and the people of Spain than I could ever get from a classroom. In Europe, traveling is easy and I have also been able to experience other cultures outside of Spain. I have been able to travel to and experience life in Italy, Ireland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic. These trips have been eye opening, and have helped me become a well-rounded person. I also became more aware of my own culture through learning about others. I am a more open minded, culturally aware, globally competent and independent thanks to my experience abroad. Life abroad is more than just a semester, but a door to a lifetime of possibilities.
What you learn about others, and yourself will also benefit you in your future college courses and career. For one, I am much more organized, and more likely to take initiative. Traveling requires you to yes, PLAN! This includes booking flights, bus tickets, hostels, and organizing your own self-guided tours (to save some Euros for café). This experience certainly will benefit you in your future career. I'll also say that studying abroad is a great addition to your resume. It shows that you are open-minded, and work well with people who are different than yourself.
Studying abroad also helped me improve my Spanish proficiency, which was my overall goal for this semester, and very important for my future working in bilingual classrooms. My Spanish will continue to improve with practice, and the experience of being abroad has given me an idea of what it feels like to be a language learner in a total immersion setting. When working with ELLS in the future I will be able to relate to what they may be experiencing and therefore be a more understanding teacher. CEA also provided the opportunity to volunteer in a school which has been helpful for me as a pre-service teacher. For other students, there is a wide variety of volunteering opportunities that may be interesting to get involved with!
What will you take home? SAYING YES!
Studying abroad has taught me to challenge myself and try new things. In the United States, I was a self-proclaimed peanut butter and jelly type of girl who was a little hesitant to try new things. Here in Spain, I try new things regularly and enjoy doing so! (I am certainly bringing Spanish recipes back with me). It is important to be open-minded, and challenge yourself while abroad! Because of this attitude and my semester in Spain, I have unforgettable memories, breathtaking photos, unexplainable inside jokes, life-long friendships, and a new appreciation for life and culture. I will continue to apply what I have learned to my life after this program ends (which will be too soon), and,of course, long after graduation.
Ryann Fromknecht is the CEA MOJO in Granada for the Spring 2013 semester
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