Going Abroad Is Boon
The Million Stone in the Sultan Ahmet neighborhood of Istanbul, Turkey was the center of the world for centuries during the reign of the Byzantine Empire. Built in the 4th Century A.D., the stone was the zero point for all roads leading from Constantinople, the old name of the city. Alan reached over the cast iron barrier and touched the stone. He’d never touched one of the ancient centers of the world.
Alan read about it in his guide-book and thought back to his history classes as he stood having his picture taken next to the stone. He was never really interested in history during high school, his teachers were boring and the long hallways filled with marble statues of dead people, the memorizing of meaningless dates (promptly forgotten) and the monotone voice of his history teachers did nothing to garner any interest. His college classes were better; they had multimedia presentations, videos and professors who genuinely seemed to have a desire for their subjects.
Listening to his professors’ lectures about history was one thing, feeling it, smelling it, tasting it and hearing its myriad voices was another - he didn’t care that they were mostly incomprehensible, they added to the enchantment.
Why Travel and Study Abroad is boon?
The world is a big place - there are 192 countries in the United Nations, though a few others not officially yet recognized do exist. Every one of those countries has citizens who wake up in the morning, make breakfast, go to work, raise families, speak languages and try to live their lives as best they can. Some are wealthy in money, some are wealthy in history, some are wealthy in natural beauty - none deserve to be ignored.
- Expand Your Awareness: The 5th Century philosopher and traveller St. Augustine of Hippo said “The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page”. Reading one page of a book seems pretty pointless, especially if it’s only the first page. Travel is about the journey and the destination. The events following September 11th, 2001 made most of Alan’s family and friends afraid to travel, especially to a Muslim country like Turkey. He went anyway and discovered that they were people just like him, with different ideas on how the world works for sure; they wanted similar comforts for their family, had dreams of the future, pride in their history and wanted to show him how beautiful their part world was.
- Cross-Cultural Understandings: Betty Webb, Director of International Programs at Meredith College said of travelling that “there is nothing that makes a country more real than knowing somebody from it”. This is a two-way street. Travel helps bring people closer together and build understanding both for the traveller and the natives of the country. When Alan spoke with his new-found Turkish friends, Spanish friends, French friends and so many others, the pre-formed cultural stereotypes on both sides melted away - except as jokes. He took his new beliefs home with him and told everyone he knew about what he experienced and so did the rest of his foreign confidantes - travelling aids in the exponential disintegration of negative stereotypes and distrust through fostering cross-cultural exchange.
Why Study Abroad?
Some Benefits of Studying Abroad
Studying abroad is the chance of a lifetime. That may sound like a cliché, but clichés exist because they are true. College life is a time of change, where the dependence on your parents is going away and you are becoming an adult, living your life the way you want to, making your own decisions, being your own person. Studying abroad is an opportunity to take those changes to a different level.
- Complete Independence: It’s hard for your parents to keep you in the nest when your 8,000 miles away, the time difference alone makes communication a slower process. In the age of 4G, live video chat and automatic bank transfers, it has become easier to keep communication across the world, but even so, studying abroad gives you the chance to be fully on your own, but still with the safety net of the program.
- Enhance Learning: On the practical side, studying abroad allows you to gain university credits, including those in your chosen major, electives and language credits. Imagine the experience of studying French in France along with gaining French Lit, History and Business Admin credits for the courses you take there. Studying abroad lets you continue your academic studies, learn about a new culture, travel to other countries during your breaks and expand your understanding of yourself and those around you in ways not possible in your own country.
- Develop Your Professional Potential: Getting a job after graduating university is no easy task; the competition in all fields makes the job search a significant worry for anyone entering the work force. Studying abroad adds some extra luster to your résumé; it shows prospective employers that you have ambition and experience beyond that of others. You live in a globalized world and businesses desire employees with multi-cultural understanding and the ability to speak more than one language.
How To Study Abroad
Best Places to Study Abroad
There are many options for studying and working abroad. Go to your university’s Office of International Studies and talk with them. If you cannot afford to study for an entire year, then go for a semester or do a summer internship. Look at all of your options. Some programs need certain language requirements, while others give you beginner level language instruction before you go. Discuss the possibilities with your family and decide on the best choice for you. Financial aid programs exist for most of the programs, both in terms of grants, scholarships and student loans - do your research and use all the resources available. Travel opens up the world, go and see it.