Reflections on Study Abroad: You Will Learn

When you study abroad, you will be challenged in every way. Everything will be new to you.

You won’t understand the language, or the culture, or the people at first. You will probably get lost navigating the metro or bus system… or even the supermarket.

You will be challenged, thrown in head first and, by your own perseverance and the help of those around you, you will eventually learn to swim. And you will be better for it in the end. Because you will learn so many new things…

You will learn to eat alone. You will learn to eat with your friends’ huge families.

You will learn to speak a new language. You will learn to use hand gestures to communicate when you have no grasp of a language.

You will learn to be thrifty with your budget… and learn when it’s worth it to splurge on that tourist attraction.

You will learn when to take pictures, and when to shut yourself off from the world and just be in the moment.
You will learn to appreciate a new culture, and challenge your ideas of the world and of your own culture.

You will learn what it’s like to be alone, and what it’s like to be a stranger in a new land.

You will learn empathy.

You will learn to be confident, calm, cool, and collected… and a little cautious and a little adventurous in everything that you do.

You will learn of inequalities, that history is written by the victors, and of tales of oppression and isolation.

You will learn of love. You will learn of heartbreak. Of saying hello and crying goodbye.

You will learn of togetherness, of resilience, and the power of community.

You will learn joy.

And most importantly, you will learn about yourself. Your deepest fears and your greatest wishes. Your passions and your pet peeves. What you hold most dear, and what you are willing to sacrifice.

You will learn to be you.


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