When I committed to Tech, I talked to a lot of current students and graduates to learn the ins and outs and to get some general advice on how to navigate life as a college student. One question I would always ask is what they would’ve done differently or a piece of advice they would give their younger self. It may seem like one of those questions that are used as a filler when you can’t think of anything else, but to me, it’s led to me being where I currently am. The answer would always be the same: “I would have studied abroad.”
I thought that this answer was annoying at the time. Of course, it would be amazing if I could fit it into my three-year plan to graduate early and do the five million other things I needed to do as someone pursuing medical school after I graduate. I immediately dismissed the idea, thinking it was simply “not for me.”
However, after the constant emails from the school and traveling extensively with my family, I did a deep dive one day and entertained the idea.
I knew so many people did it and absolutely loved it, and I found a program that would allow me to advance in my degree and take classes that I would take on campus anyways. Although my three-year plan soon fell apart, I made it work, and now I get to meander through New Zealand and Australia for the next two months.
As I am reaching the one-month mark, I can easily say that I do not regret it. The following reasons will be more Tech-specific reasons for studying abroad rather than the ominous “expand your cultural awareness” riff-raff that you might find online.
Of course, everyone chose Tech for the benefits of being in a large city but also the campus’ ability to make it feel like you’re not in one of the most populated cities in the United States.
The networking opportunities are unparalleled, and the skyline is surely a sight to see. In the winter, there is no need to trudge along in snow boots and in the summer, you can bask in the warmth of the sun. However, imagine doing your homework sitting on a wooden bench listening to the birds chirping and ducks floating by as you watch the river flow through campus. An hour ago, this was what I was surrounded with, and it was a great study session sans revving engines and highway noise.
I promised I would stray away from using the conventional “find your purpose” kind of reasons for studying abroad. However, I feel that being able to adapt to your surroundings is an underrated skill to have.
Many situations, whether it be work in the real-world or problem solving in a classroom, requires application of skills.
This means understanding what is socially acceptable, understanding people’s differences across borders and being able to apply what you have learned about your surroundings to survive in very different social, geographic and cultural environments than usual.
Additionally, doing a study abroad will inevitably bring you closer together to the people you travel with. It is a great way to meet new people and allows you to get a taste of independence and adult life.
Especially for in-state residents who are close to home or live in Atlanta, it’s a good chance to explore somewhere new and get a change of scenery. Additionally, many programs have a three-day weekend, which allows you to plan trips with friends and optimize weekends.
Although some may argue that you could always go abroad alone, the sense of community while traveling with fellow students is unparalleled, and you will have some of the best memories with students that will come right back to campus with you.