By LORENA ROBERTS, Lehigh University student and uloop.com writer
Have you ever wondered why or if it’s even necessary to study abroad? Many universities have implemented a study abroad requirement in order to receive a degree. It may seem silly at first glance, but when you think about it, you realize that traveling is an education in itself.
Here are five reasons why you should consider traveling to enhance your learning:
- Real-life connections
Sitting in history class is BORING. (OK, maybe not to you history buffs out there). Honestly, I’d rather take chemistry than listen to a history professor go on and on and on about some ancient civilization. But when you travel, history comes to life.
When I studied abroad in Germany, I made a lot of connections to history that I’d learned about previously. Being there, where things really took place, was way cooler than looking at pictures on a PowerPoint slide. I was much more interested and actually retained some of the information (which is more than I can say about my American History class in high school).
- Out-of-classroom experiences
Things like stress management and communication skills can’t always be polished in a classroom. If you study abroad and have to travel with a classmate, I guarantee you’ll be able to identify some areas for improvement.
I can remember multiple instances where I identified that I needed to become a better communicator. I needed to learn how to make plans with other people and not for other people. I had finally been put in a situation where I wasn’t in control. It was a big learning curve.
Though these may not seem like things that will directly impact your learning, they will help you in the long run. Just having the experience of traveling will give you so many more perspectives on life.
- Defining yourself
If you feel like you haven’t exactly defined your identity, leave your country for a semester or longer. I can guarantee that you’ll come back with a better handle on who you are and what you have to offer the world. I found out so many things about myself when I studied in Germany. In those five weeks, I learned more about who I am and what I represent than the previous year I had spent on campus.
There’s something about having to manage yourself in a new place. There’s something about having to plan ahead and explore on your own. There’s something about traveling that teaches you so many more things about yourself than what you can get from being in college at home. I’m not sure how, but you’ll figure out who you are if you give yourself some time to travel.
- New ways of living
When you travel, you’ll have to learn a different way of living. You’ll have to get outside your comfort zone and look at how other parts of the world live.
When you’re sitting in your European apartment without a dryer and the tiniest fridge you’ve ever seen, you’ll appreciate their attempt to decrease their footprint on the world. They’re trying to save energy. Why don’t we do this in America?
You’ll return home with a newfound appreciation for your life and the opportunities you’ve been given. After I traveled around Europe, I came home so much more thankful to go to a university with comfortable housing. I couldn’t have been happier to share a bathroom with 59 other 18- to 22-year-old girls. I couldn’t have been happier to get up for my 8 a.m. courses. I had such a deepened appreciation for what I had been given. Traveling taught me to be thankful.
Excerpted from uloop.com, Online Marketplace for College Life.