August 20, 2012

How I Struggled With the Decision to Travel Abroad

If you’re a college student considering a travel abroad program, I strongly encourage you to sign up for it.

I can tell you from personal experience that traveling abroad—especially during your college years—can be one of the most rewarding experiences you’ll ever have. During my tenure as an undergraduate I traveled to several countries in Western Europe, an amazingly eye-opening time that helped make me the person I am today. I learned to appreciate different cultures and peoples, I learned a heck of a lot about myself, and I made some of the best friends of my life.

And to think that such a transformative moment in my youth almost never happened.

You see, I wasn’t always gung-ho about traveling abroad. No, at first I was actually quite comfortable in the sheltered environment at my college. I had developed fast friendships with my peers and couldn’t imagine traveling anywhere else when I could spend my time taking classes at school, learning as much as I could from my writing professors.  Whenever professors or fellow students brought up the topic of traveling abroad, I figured it was a prospect only meant for privileged rich kids or free spirited students with no direction in life. It didn’t seem like something that was possible or desirable for someone like me, a young woman from a middle class family with ambitions of being a novelist.

What’s more, I harbored serious reservations about the potential safety hazards that could befall someone traveling abroad. I worried about all sorts of outrageous worst case scenarios: losing my passport in the middle of a country where no one spoke English; being kidnapped for ransom money; running out of my own money before the trip had ended; regretting my destination as soon as I arrived there. No outlandish traumatic event was too crazy to consider if I could dream it up—I had made the prospect of traveling so scary that I didn’t even bother thinking about it.

Long story short, I was pretty ignorant and unnecessarily paranoid about the subject.

That all changed when I befriended a classmate in my junior year who had just come back from a semester long trip in Europe. Her rich and unbelievable stories about traveling to such destinations as Milan, Frankfurt, and Paris immediately dispelled the reservations I had about traveling. My friend explained to me how she, like me, had been immensely anxious about the prospect of traveling. She wondered what would go wrong and worried that she might be put in an uncomfortable situation in a foreign country. But once she actually got to her destination, once she actually set foot on solid ground in the UK, in France, in Germany, and in Italy, everything changed.

The very next day after talking with my friend about her experiences I signed myself up for a study abroad program affiliated with my college’s English department. That summer I traveled all across Western Europe, a three month-long experience that would change my life forever. All the inhibitions and baseless fears I harbored were lessened with each passing day in a foreign country. What’s more, it made me a better person.

I hope that you give yourself the chance to have the same experience.

About the author. With knowledge of the best background check companies and tactics, Jane Smith provides vital information and tips throughout her blogs and site Email her your thoughts or concerns at

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