Face the facts—the world is converging. Okay, maybe only figuratively (apparently the tectonic plates in New Zealand are both diverging and converging simultaneously).
The point is we live in a global society. Airbus, a French company, is currently building a plant in Alabama; Coca-Cola operates in all but two countries in the world and over 2,700 flights will cruise in and out of Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport on any given day. Factor in the instant connection and power the digital world offers through outlets such as Twitter and Facebook, and the implications are viral.
While business and technology make it seem as if the world is shrinking around you, the truth is you can’t experience everything it offers by hiding in one corner of the globe.
So here’s the question: Will you join in on the fun? With the myriad of study abroad opportunities offered at Tech, there’s no reason you shouldn’t—Tech’s Office of International Education offers over 100 programs, and 42% of Tech students graduate with an international experience under their belts.
The great news is if you’re an out-of-state student, you’ll pay in-state tuition while studying abroad, and the HOPE scholarship will still apply to in-state students who qualify when studying abroad through Tech.
Studying at one of the world-renowned universities Tech partners with such as Oxford University in the United Kingdom or Tsinghua University in China will expand your view of the world and it’s many cultures, while also boosting your resume no matter which major you’ve chosen.
19th Century American author Mark Twain said, “one must travel to learn,” and he was right. There’s nothing like studying biology by swimming with a 23-foot-long manta ray in the Great Barrier Reef on the Pacific Program, learning the history of art and architecture by exploring the ancient sites of Greece and Italy or polishing off one of your language skills while studying through the LBAT programs offered in France, Spain, Ecuador, Peru, Russia, Korea, Japan, Germany, Jordan, China and Senegal. No matter what program you choose, learning first-hand is sure to leave you with a heightened sense of understanding for your courses and their cultural roots. Combine this with your host country’s unique perspective on your chosen area of expertise, and you’re left with a robust global point of view that modern big-time companies are looking for. As the world’s cultures continue to interact with one another at a rate that’s greater each year than ever before, there’s no reason you shouldn’t follow suit.
Stepping out of your comfort zone may seem scary, but in today’s society companies seek cooperative, flexible and global-minded team members. It’s true; the brand new world around you may be filled with foreign places, languages and people that can be intimidating at first glance. Maybe you and your friends are taking the Metro in Paris and you’re not sure whether to get off the train at St. Michel Notre Dame, St. Michel or Notre Dame des Champs. The beauty of it all is that these experiences foster both independence and community simultaneously.
Traveling to six European countries by bus with 50 other students on the Oxford Summer Program is a perfect recipe for fast friendships, and you’re more likely to bond with your Spanish professor on a class excursion to the top of Machu Picchu than you would by sheepishly texting in the back of her classroom during lecture in Atlanta. Not to mention your interaction with locals in your host country are sure to be both entertaining and eye-opening. These waves of fresh experiences with new people and places are sure to cultivate an ocean of independence. Each new map, train and grocery store in a foreign country can reveal valuable advice about all types of situations and how to manage them.
So what are you waiting for? There has never been a more perfect time to set sail than now. Next thing you know, you’ll be sitting in the office break room, counting the number of vacation days you’ve saved up, wishing you could get away and explore the Spanish countryside, if only for the weekend.
While I’m only kidding, I am serious about the fact that we are young, educated and have the world at our fingertips.
This planet was made to be tasted, smelled, touched and explored. You can’t replicate that no matter how much time you spend looking at it on Google Earth. Tech offers over 100 opportunities abroad—it’s time to just pick one already. Maybe it is a small world after all, but you would never dream of the surprises it holds until you pack up and experience it yourself.