By: Hannah Madore
Since my freshman year at Bryant, I knew I was going to study abroad. I didn’t know why I wanted to or what my purpose was, but I was going regardless. My brother, six years ago, studied abroad in South Korea. I thought “Wow. Studying abroad sounds so fun. I get to go to another country and live there!” Little did I know what I would get myself into. As years went by, I finally studied abroad this past fall semester of 2017 in Ireland and it was incredible. Not for the sole reason of living internationally, but because of the lessons I learned and the experiences I can now reflect on. I believe every Bryant University student should study abroad, and here’s why.
First, everyone should start with an open mind and optimism. If all you think about is how much you’re missing out at Bryant or at home with your family, then your abroad experience is not going to be very fun. Instead, do your best to put that mentality aside and open your mind to the outside world. This is the only way to truly immerse yourself into that culture.
Two of the biggest factors I believe prevent others from wanting to study abroad are finances and the idea of FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) back at Bryant or at home. Of course, these were my two major concerns. Naturally, I hated the idea of leaving my family for four months. Even worse, I really didn’t believe I had the budget to pay for all my necessities and expenses. I overcame that mentality because the pros of studying abroad eventually overruled the cons.
Most importantly, it is essential to let yourself be open to new experiences. Study abroad allows you to grow as an individual and gives you real world opportunities, to receive what you can’t in a classroom. I’ve learned to be independent and mature, in ways that I would have not been able to at Bryant alone. I was exposed to cultural differences that were challenging and tested my cultural knowledge. I realize now that I needed these obstacles in order to rely on others less and myself more. The decisions I was forced to make have helped me grow as an adult.
Although it may seem like an obstacle to studying abroad now, I urge you not to worry about not having the budget to pay for all your expenses. The programs provided give you the opportunities to apply for scholarships or other kinds of funding. Thankfully, my scholarship from Bryant carried over to my study abroad program. Everyone’s finances are going to be different but, with a little proactive strategy, everything will work out in the end. Nothing or nobody should prevent you from wanting to study abroad if you are determined to go. In fact, many people, especially past participants, will push you to study abroad.
Also, you get the great opportunity of meeting individuals from the country you study abroad in: whether they are other students from the school you attend or locals walking the streets. Many people study abroad with friends from Bryant or students from other schools in the US. Although this can make you feel more comfortable in your new home, it is very important to be open to traveling on your own or with people you’ve just met. It makes your experience so much more culturally fascinating.
Reflecting on my study abroad experience, I now realize there are very few reasons why Bryant students shouldn’t study abroad. There were times when I just wanted to be home seeing my family and friends. That is part of the entire experience. You are going to miss your friends and family, but you will always remember the experiences you had and look forward to the ones you’ll have in the future.