I recently applied for a position in the Office of Study Abroad at my university, I was really excited that the position opened up, and I really hope I get the job. For the interview, candidates were asked to prepare a verbal presentation, I wanted to share what I wrote for mine:
I believe everyone deserves to be inspired. A study abroad program through Michigan State University provides you with that opportunity. You are inspired everyday. By the people you meet, what you see on your walks to class, the different tastes and smells, as well as from your studies in class or at an internship.
You lose the ability to be inspired when you get into a routine, because your thoughts start to become routine. You don’t appreciate your surroundings, you don’t really pay attention to what you’re learning, and everything seems a little lackluster. It’s only after traveling; that you can appreciate the strangeness and beauty of each place you visit as well as your home.
By submerging yourself in another culture, you learn something new everyday—whether you realize it or not—you will come back a more knowledgeable and enriched human being.
Studying abroad is not an extended vacation. You really get to understand and appreciate both the good and bad aspects of the country you are living in. On a vacation, you tour local hot spots and visit museums, sample dishes that are the most well known, and spend the majority of your time with your family and friends—You just skim the surface.
When you study abroad, however, you have time to get lost and explore, you meet locals, you get to know your peers and professors, and you find secrets of the city that are even better than anything you’ve ever read about.
You also get to learn about the problems the country you are in is facing—economic and unemployment issues, poverty, crime—the stereotypes the people who live there might be predisposed to—not everyone in Spain loves bull fighting and drinks only Sangria—and how different this life is from the one you are accustomed to back at Michigan State.
You absorb so much in your time abroad, that you come back a well-rounded individual by default. I studied abroad in Santander, Spain last summer and the experience was invaluable.
The peers who take the journey abroad with you will end up being your best friends. Studying abroad is such a unique experience that it is hard to understand how quickly and deeply you bond with the other students unless you take the trip.
Traveling to and living in a different place gives you a new perspective on what is truly valuable. You come home looking at things differently, excited to share what you’ve seen and learned, and you are ready to take on the rest of the world.
So why is study abroad so important?
From an academic standpoint, you have the chance to take incredible classes in amazing cities across the world, you get to bond with professors who are not only recognized and respected in their country, but well renowned internationally, and your time in a foreign country makes you much more marketable.
From a personal standpoint, every student’s experience is different, but you come home changed. You learn to become a pioneer—adapting to unfamiliar situations, interacting with people of all different backgrounds, exploring new terrain, and overcoming fears.
Both aspects of the study abroad experience are equally valuable and if my time in Spain taught me anything it’s that in order to be successful and not live with any regret or remorse, you should always be willing to go on an adventure in order to learn more.