School is back in session in grand ole Niner Nation. Now, I’m going to give you a very serious piece of advice: Leave Charlotte ASAP!
You might be puzzled because this is one of the best cities/colleges to be at. Sure, the Queen City is an absolute gem of a place to live and study, but there is so much more outside the 704, so much more outside our beloved United States.
I have two words for you: Study abroad. Take this from an undergrad who has left the country twice to seek international education, seen some of the most beautiful places in the world and has enough memories to last a lifetime. I’m absolutely positive studying abroad is for every student passionate about education and anyone with the desire to have enriching life experiences. I will briefly explain my reasoning and leave you with the tools to make the next step, if you so wish to take the adventure of a lifetime.
Go while you can
Fun fact: International travel is significantly easier for students. Most international governments open their borders wide for students seeking higher education. Plus, there are so many programs designed to help college students take the leap abroad. Whether it’s financial aid, scholarships or internship program, there is literally something for everyone. Think about all the responsibilities that will come after graduation. There won’t be much time to jet off for an adventure abroad.
Traveling is the best education
Retweet to that. The cross-cultural education you open yourself up to while abroad is richer than any class available. It’s one thing to read about another culture or foreign customs, politics, etc., but when you directly submerge yourself in that environment, you are guaranteed another level of learning.
Education outside the United States is unlike anything I’ve experienced in a classroom. Personally, I felt my mind being stretched and challenged every day. You are guaranteed a fresh, global perspective on your field of study – something that can’t always be acquired at a home university.
Oh, and did I mention doing the whole school thing abroad is just plain fun? A change of scenery can work wonders. Aside from formal education, you’ll learn more about yourself. Of course, everyone’s experience is different, but anyone who has been abroad can agree that you won’t return back home the same person.
If I had to pick the best aspect from my time abroad, it would be the deep, beautiful friendships I formed and continue to keep. It’s amazing how quickly you can bond with mere strangers. Easily connecting with others while abroad could be attributed to the fact that you are actively placing yourself in an environment to meet new people; plus, it’s easy to get along with others who love to travel and explore as much as you do.
These people become family in a matter of weeks, and the memories made together are priceless. Despite the reality of being torn apart once the adventure comes to an end, the bonds still remain. Unfortunately, none of my study abroad friends live close by, but they are still a part of my inner circle. We don’t talk every day, but when we do catch up, it’s like picking up right where we left off.
My study abroad friends know and understand me in a much more different way than my peers and friends at home. Two years later and I still consider my handful of study abroad friends to be some of my best friends. The miles don’t matter and have never mattered.
Another perk to racking up so many friends all over the place is that I have an open invite to go visit. They graciously offer to board me if I ever “come their way” and vice versa. The next best thing to a study abroad trip is a study abroad reunion.
When all is said and done, your time abroad can open doors in the professional world. Add your international university to a resume, and you are bound to have leg up on other applicants. Since my time in Europe, every employer I’ve talked to has inquired about my global experience. They later shared that it made me stand out from other candidates.
In an employer’s mind, a study abroad alumnus equals an individual who is good with change, open to new experiences, a quick learner and good with all types of people. All those great, employable qualities are what will make you stand out from the pack in the job world, so work it! Personally, I have landed jobs and have been able to take opportunities that would’ve never fallen in my lap if it hadn’t been for studying abroad.
Invaluable life experience
Anyone who leaves his or her home for an educational/life experience will undoubtedly change as a person. Let’s face it – leaving your home country to live in a foreign place is the definition of stepping outside one’s comfort zone. There are a million reasons why you shouldn’t miss out on such a rewarding opportunity.
I think about my study abroad experiences every single day and wish I had time to do it all again. Did you know the most common regret of college grads is not studying abroad? If I can promise one thing, it’s that you absolutely will never regret an experience like this.
Studying abroad will be challenging and demanding at times, but the rewards are endless. Going abroad will make you more compassionate as a human, a better global citizen, more willing to take on other adventures, heighten your desire for education and fuel your love for exploring the world.
Where would you like to go?
You’re in luck because UNC Charlotte happens to have a fantastic education abroad office. For more information on their programs, visit edabroad.uncc.edu. You can set up an appointment to talk to a well-traveled advisor and select a program appropriate for your course of study and personal preference. Remember, you can always opt for a non-affiliate program, too, as long as the Office of Education Abroad approves it. So, what are you waiting for?