Studying abroad in college is unlike any other kind of travel I’ve ever done before. I loved the first go around in Italy so much, I signed up for London as soon as I got back. I’ve been on press trips, traveled with my family or friends, traveled alone… but nothing beats studying and living abroad when you’re 20 or 21. In fact, the more I travel, the more I’m convinced that the key ingredient to travel is time. I wonder if short-term trips aren’t worth as much as long-term stays in other countries. Kickin it in Europe for a few weeks is awesome, sure. But do you really get to enjoy the culture like you would if you lived there, even temporarily? No. So here are four reasons why you should study abroad in college. You won’t regret it if you go, but you might ten years down the road if you don’t…
1. Nightlife: Partying in another country
Nightlife when you’re living abroad, especially in big cities, is totally awesome. By the nature of the beast of college study abroad, you’ll be surrounded by other students who want to socialize. Plus, going out in foreign cities is one of the best ways to get to know the city itself. In London, my group of friends had a list of clubs and bars we’d visit on a regular basis, and connecting these locations with each other helped us build a sense of community in a big city.
2. Language: increases independence and self sufficiency
When I first got to Italy, I didn’t speak a word of Italian. But just by interacting with Italians on a daily basis, I started picking up words and phrases. It sounds goofy, but being able to walk into a shop and order a sandwich in another language really does make you feel accomplished.
3. Food: Always tastes better from its country of origin
I don’t care how good Greek food in New York City is, there’s no better place to eat Greek food than Greece. Same goes for pasta in Italy, wine in France, beer in Germany, potatoes in Ireland, or guacamole in Mexico. Living abroad gives you a chance to taste foreign food from the country itself, and trust me, there is a difference from the Greek diner downtown to the Greek diner in Athens.
4. Living Abroad is a Long Term Investment
People always freak out about money, spending money abroad, and finding a place to live. There are ways to save money when you live abroad. I couldn’t even count how many times people tell me they can’t afford to travel or live abroad. But in reality, money works itself out… try for a loan or win a study abroad scholarship. The cost of living abroad is just another trade off in the bigger picture. Living abroad is a long term investment in yourself, and your trip will just keep giving back, long after you’ve returned home. As a young adult, study abroad programs develop your life survival skills by placing you in a totally new environment. It sounds campy, but you are forced to adapt, and in that, you grow in ways that may not even be revealed to you until years later.