CEA: Please provide a short summary of your study abroad experience:
Brian: My study abroad experience can be summed up as the first time I learned to be comfortable with expecting the unexpected. Throughout the entirety of my semester abroad I subconsciously brought many assumptions with me about how everyday life works in America. While the first few weeks were the toughest to overcome in terms of shaking loose these assumptions, I found myself struggling with these preconceived notions all the way until the end. As time passed and I travelled to more and more places, these assumptions became easier to break free of before and after acting upon them. The greatest lesson I learned from my whole semester abroad is that when you find yourself making an assumption, ask a local instead.
CEA: Why did you choose to study abroad?
Brian: I chose to study abroad because all of my older friends who had done it said it was the most amazing experience of their life. All of my graduating friends who did not do it said it was their biggest regret. Furthermore, I realized I would never get such an incredible opportunity to see another part of the world for nearly four months ever again, how could I pass that up?
CEA: What skills did you learn or improve on during your time abroad?
Brian: First and foremost is intercultural communication. When I first arrived I assumed that anyone I spoke to in English would understand what I was talking about indefinitely. Unfortunately some things got lost in translation. It truly is such an advantage knowing the English language when you are traveling, as everywhere I went I could communicate with people. However, sometimes you have to meet them half way, because for them it is a second language.
CEA: How have you changed because of your abroad experience?
Brian: I have changed in that now I have an itch to be on the move and travel. I want to see as much of the world as possible and there just isn't enough money or free time. I do however know a lot more than I did before. While I did learn a lot about my host society and all the places I travelled, this is not what I am referring to. Rather I am referring to the fact that you truly know more when you realize how little you actually do know to begin with.
CEA: What classes did you find useful or applicable to your field of study or career interest?
Brian: While abroad, I took an International Business class that helped prepare me in the widely increasing scenario of big corporations entering an international market. My course on Intercultural Communication and Global Competence was very helpful in learning about interactions between people of different backgrounds, regardless if they are in business sense or just for leisurely travel.
CEA: Why do you think it's important for male students/all students to study abroad?
Brian: It really is just such an eye opening experience. Not only that it's very unique compared to eight consecutive semesters of the same thing. It's very hard to realize how little you actually know when you spend four years living in a bubble, which you come to master. Study abroad actually provides you with the very opposite of that and can slap you right across the face as a kind of a wake-up call.
CEA: If you could give any advice to other male students considering study abroad, what would it be?
Brian: GO, you won't have the opportunity to have such a great set up in a foreign country again.
Read more about our CEA Content Creators.