Studying abroad is a unique experience, providing you with opportunities that you wouldn’t otherwise get. Upon reflection, I am still more grateful than ever that I am on this journey, because although studying at ‘home’ has its own appeal, the experience that studying in a different country provides you with is relatively incomparable.
Studying abroad enriches you with experiences that mould you into a better version of yourself. You grow both as a person and an individual, discovering different facets of yourself in response to new experiences and obstacles which you face. It makes you receptive to new cultures, people and ideas. Introducing a new dimension of open-mindedness and flexibility that previously lay undiscovered within yourself.
Now you might be thinking, isn’t she just describing the journey of self-development that every individual goes through when they start university? The answer is quite simply, no. You see when you’re in the comfort of being in your homeland, your limits are not tested in the same way. If you happen to come across people from different countries or regions, you will try to interact with them but, if you choose not to you have that option. The option to simply walk away and carrying on to socialize with those that you feel comfortable with. But imagine if you don’t have this option, your limits will be tested will they not? Because you don’t have the option to walk away, these people are your only option.
Studying in a foreign country means that you have a lot to learn, these new people have their own set of rules, their own culture, their own traditions and their own way of life. You cannot enforce upon them your way of life, your traditions or your culture. In response to this conflict, you learn to adapt, to compromise and to understand. The things you learn you will sometimes find yourself adopting. However, there will be other times where you will consciously choose not to learn, and continue to hold onto your own methods and beliefs. After studying abroad for a year and returning back to the UK, I noticed that this seemingly insignificant change in me had a considerable effect on my behaviour to others who were foreign to the UK. It made me tolerant, understanding and open-minded.
Knowing that you only have yourself to rely on, also brings about an irrevocable change within yourself. You become confident, both in your decisions and subsequently in your self. To be able to move to another country and start-up a new life takes a lot of inner strength, self belief and determination. Along the way you have your good days and bad days, some phases last longer than others but you find ways to enjoy the good days and deal with the tough days because you have to. You don’t have the choice to simply pack up and get the train home.
In this microcosm you create; a home away from home, you have breakthroughs, you are forced to grow. You’re in unknown territory, outside of your comfort zone, not by choice but by circumstance, a situation which is comparatively rare when you’re in your homeland. It is because of this that the experience of studying abroad is so much more rewarding and enriching than studying at home.