Studying Abroad

Article by: Jacob Wilkowsky (Q19)

Syllabus week is behind us, textbooks are finally purchased, and classes are starting to speed up. As life at College Park once again becomes the norm, you may notice the absence of some of your usual classmates. Maybe they switched majors? Did they drop out and join a start-up? Either of these situations could be the case. But you won’t see me around campus this semester, because like many others, I am studying abroad.

Jacob poses for a picture during his adventures abroad

I have already made the commitment to study in Milan this semester, but there was a time when I didn’t know if I would be leaving the comfort of College Park. Debating whether to study abroad, there were many questions I considered. I asked questions like:
• Will I miss out on spending time back at College Park?
• Can I meet new people and make new friends?
• The credits, do they transfer!?!?
These, among many others, are the questions most students ask themselves when considering studying abroad. Sometimes students get overwhelmed by these uncertainties and drop the idea all together. However, for any student debating whether to study abroad you only really need to ask yourself one question: why should I study abroad? Hopefully I can help you find the answer by sharing the experiences of two QUESTees who have already studied abroad.

The first student I interviewed was Cole Parker of Cohort 19, who studied abroad in Japan this summer. Cole wanted to become fluent in Japanese and capitalize on his Japanese and International Business double major. Excited to hear about his time abroad, I asked Cole about the impact studying abroad had on him. His experience had a huge impact on his life- it “morphed [his] eating style and personal fitness, taught [him] about American and Japanese culture, solidified [his] religious convictions and fortified [his] self-confidence.” And when asked to give one reason why someone should study abroad, Cole unequivocally stated, “I believe going to Japan for a semester has enabled me to unlock my potential.”

Unlocking potential, learning about culture, picking up second languages, new foods and fitness, more self-confidence, religious convictions fortified: sounds like a good move on Cole’s part. What does Sahil Rahman (Cohort 17) think? He spent his Spring 20212 semester in Sevilla, Spain.

“Although I enjoyed every semester at school there was one that stood out from all the rest. It encompassed every range of emotion, and is home to some of my most absurd escapades, greatest personal growth, funniest stories, and many of my fondest memories– [it] was the spring of 2012. We traveled all over, met amazing people, tried local cuisines, learned new languages, and found ourselves in an absurd amount of dance offs. We went to bullfights & flamenco shows, stepped outside our comfort zones, partied with the locals, and had the time of our lives!”

Sahil was one of the people who helped me decide whether to study abroad. Talking to him yesterday, he repeated a proclamation he gave me 4 months ago- “Studying abroad is a surreal experience, and is one of the best things you can do for yourself during your college years.” Hopefully, like Sahil did for me, I can provide you with some insight on why you should study abroad.

Here is the way I see it. Not so long ago we were at orientation and had questions like:
• Will I miss my family and friends from back home?
• Can I meet new people and make new friends?
• The credits, what do I take!?!?!
We were nervous, excited, the whole experience was undeniably thrilling. Some time between then and now we had a journey and all the questions we were so concerned about seemed to vanish. The experiences have been great, and staying in College Park will undeniably produce more great memories.

So why study abroad? Here is my answer, are you ready? Study abroad because it offers you a great canvas for you to expand your horizons and grow personally. The only reason I feel confident giving this answer is because that’s what everyone, I mean everyone, has told me. If you are worried about safety, cost, academics, those are all valid concerns. Make sure to address them, but do not be intimidated. In the words of Sahil Rahman, “Are you ready for the adventure of a lifetime?”

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