When I start thinking about the reasons why I decided to study abroad, a million things come to mind.
From a young age, I developed a love for challenges. I would always tell my mom that I wouldn’t mind going through hard times as long as I could learn something from it. I constantly found myself wanting more and more challenges. Because of this, I now have strong desires to continue to grow in different areas of life. I believe everyday we have the opportunity to learn something new, maybe a different perspective or idea. It’s up to us to expand our knowledge or to get comfortable with what we know.
Months before I made the decision to study abroad, I heard a pastor preach about asking God to help us get out of our comfort zone. To help us get out of that place where we felt safe. To let God work in us. To not get too comfortable in life. When I heard this, 2 Timothy 1: 7 came to mind. “ For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” It was at that moment I realized there were so many things I wanted to do, but did not do, because of fear. I wanted to travel, experience a new culture and become more independent, yet I was afraid to leave behind that place where I felt the most comfortable.
My comfort zone was my family. After praying about it, I made the decision to study in Spain. I knew it would be a challenge but I wanted to give it a try. Often, people don’t realize that many students, like me, who choose to study abroad are leaving home for the very first time. It was very difficult to leave home but I knew it was necessary. I remember being at the airport thinking about the decision I had made. I arrived in Spain with an open mind just hoping for the best, yet I was homesick within the first day. I remember calling my mom sobbing, telling her I wanted to come home. Now, five months later I can say staying in Spain has been, by far, the best decision I have made. Not everything has been easy but I have grown a lot as a person. Being here in Spain has given me the opportunity to truly discover myself.
When I decided to study abroad I knew I was going to start over. I had to gain an understanding of a completely different culture, meet new people and get used to a new way of life.
I now have the ability to adapt to diverse situations. I would encourage everyone to study abroad. I know change and just the fact of being in a new place with people you don’t know can sound overwhelming, but it’s definitely worth it. I think everyone should take the time to know other cultures because it’s very important to expand our knowledge. We need to be able to understand others better and be a little more open minded about other customs.
By taking the time to know other cultures you will also find incredible new foods, customs and traditions. You get to experience new things and at the same time grow academically. With time it will become easier to relate to people who’s cultures and customs are different.
Studying abroad will also help you appreciate the little things. By being on your own and leaving your comfort zone, you are set to face a reality you may not like. I personally realized that I took a lot of things for granted. If you study abroad, you will grow in ways you didn’t think you would.
For example, it will allow you to develop your own views.
When you live in another country on your own, you are, in a way, speeding up that transition of becoming an adult. You begin to rely less on others and take more responsibility for yourself. This experience has been a blessing to me because I am no longer afraid of taking a leap into the unknown. I have met wonderful people, I have matured and I have discovered who I am as well as what I stand for.
Studying abroad has also helped me to realize that I was depending on others too much for my spiritual walk. I am learning to be constant with it even when everything around me changes. I have learned to depend completely on Him.