I began to seriously consider studying abroad the summer before my third year of University. I had always told myself that I would study abroad, but in a very idealistic sense. In reality, I knew very little about international travel or the practicalities and logistics of becoming a student in another country. While my parents were as supportive as they could be, they were also unfamiliar with the concept of studying abroad, as neither of them had the opportunity to do so during their times in college.
“In reality, I knew very little about international travel or the practicalities and logistics of becoming a student in another country.”
With that being said, I was relatively on my own when it came down to deciding to study abroad. It is obvious that I am so grateful that I was able to have the chance to live in London, but I didn’t realize how lasting many of the effects of spending a semester in a different country would be.
Coming from a fairly small town, my college city of Ann Arbor seemed slightly intimidating during my early years in University. However, I stayed close within the realm of campus. I rarely ventured out into the city of Ann Arbor and my circle became my dorm, my friends’ dormitories, the gym, and the buildings where my classes were held. While I was certainly satisfied with this tight-knit community, studying in London forced me to reconsider the idea of a “comfort zone”. After returning from London, I was surprised with my interest in exiting the areas I had previously been so satisfied with. This newfound sense of adventure and proactive behavior has led to a much more eventful and meaningful time in a city whose opportunities I thought I had exhausted.
“…studying in London forced me to reconsider the idea of a “comfort zone”
The realization of the sheer size of the world is something I did not think would stick with me as long as it has after returning home. It is extremely easy to get caught up in the stress and trials of everyday life — balancing work, internships, social life and family can bring its fair share of difficulties — but my time abroad has provided me with a different outlook on this stress. By reminding myself just how many people populate the planet and the varying extent to which they choose to live their lives, I gain an attitude that places many of my troubles into perspective. The emphasis on family, food and relaxation that I was greeted by during my travels has helped me focus on what is truly important.
These are only a few of the attitudes and values that I find myself thinking about frequently. There are certainly countless experiences and incidents that I learned invaluable lessons from — ones that I hope to carry with me for the rest of my life.