By: Shauna Wright
The last article that I wrote touched on the transition from one institution to the other, establishing the profound difference in the attitudes towards learning here at Goucher compared to my home university. Moving forward with my exploration of what it is like to study abroad; I would like to touch on the cultural perks that are a large part of what is like to be an exchange student.
Experiencing a brand new culture is scary. As humans, we tend not to be so well acquainted with the idea of change, of turning our world upside down. However, implementing a positive attitude in conjunction with a new culture will enable you to get the best out of your exchange. Thus, being smack dab in the midst of change becomes less frightening! I am aware that not everyone will agree. Lucky for them!
I am speaking for the people who aren’t all that comfortable with change because I can relate. Overall, I would say that I adapt very well. I strongly believe in just getting on with the situation that you are in; I do not like to waste time. Although I am a strong and hands on character, that doesn’t mean that I don’t still struggle with change at times, particularly, when missing my loved ones which is an inevitability while being away.
If you, like myself, tend to dive straight in acting purely on impulse; it’s similar to going grocery shopping or ordering take out on an empty stomach. All you’ll do is end up getting much more than you need. Try practicing being a little more mindful as opposed to impulsive. You’d probably get a relatively reasonable result. The key is and will always be mind-set. For example, although change is scary, if you can train yourself to focus on the bigger picture instead of panicking you’ll get more out of your experience.
Be aware of the possibilities that are floating all around you during your time abroad. Immerse yourself into a brand new culture, expand your knowledge of the world and give yourself the skills to be able to live with a varied range of people from all walks of life.
One of the biggest perks of my experience has been the traveling aspect. I have been able to experience a range of places and cultures which I wouldn’t have been able to do anytime soon, if at all, had I not studied abroad. Goucher is in a great location in terms of proximity to big cities. For example, it is very close to Washington, D.C. and Philadelphia. Furthermore, it is not far from New York either. I have visited D.C. where I got to see The White House, Washington Memorial, Lincoln Memorial and visited The National Zoological Park; complete with free admission and giant pandas. This past weekend, I visited Philly. The trip included the Philadelphia Museum of Art ($14 for students. So, don’t forget your student ID), the George Washington Memorial, Liberty Bell, and Independence Hall. I accessed both of the cities via MEGABUS: cheap, cheerful and perfect for students wanting to travel, but on a budget.
I guess what I am trying to put across, is that if you are nervous about studying abroad, that’s completely okay. But try to channel your nerves into positive energy so that you are able to soak up all of the glorious new perspectives that surround you. TRAVEL TRAVEL TRAVEL particularly if it is easily accessible. Be mindful and remember to immerse yourself in the culture; broadening your horizons.
Please feel free to contact me firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to ask me anything in regards to my study abroad experience or home institution: Roehampton University.