Studying abroad is supposed to be scary. Get out of your comfort zone and try things you’ve never done before. Learn how to scuba-dive, go to a fútbol game, sing at an open-mic night, and eat all the local cuisine, even if it has a name like Haggis. Make friends with the locals and ask a lot of questions! Once you’ve done things you never thought you could, you will become more confident; you’ll feel on top of the world, like you can do anything!
Traveling is an Art. It requires practice, diligence and passion. The art of travel is an ultimate expression of the humanities, real life interaction with new people and culture. Henry David Thoreau urges us to discover in our own terms what it would mean to “live deliberately”. I believe in practicing the art of travel one learns how to “live deliberately.” When we travel we open ourselves up to new opportunities and yank ourselves out of our comfort zone. Self reflection becomes a coping technique to navigate in this new world, and begins a dialogue between the person you were when you left home and the person you will become upon your return. The art of travel teaches us how to mold our own existence in this world, how to connect emotionally and absorb international relations subconsciously. This art form becomes an education of life in which we really take ourselves out of the classroom.
“This study abroad program can be difficult; [you are often] seeing and experiencing things that force you to question your place in the world and its economic and cultural structure… The things I saw and learned during my time in Kenya have changed who I am and how I conceive of my future. Getting through difficult times and learning about local culture, politics, and economics in the process is enriching.” – Wellesley student on SIT: Nairobi program.
Through living abroad and interacting with other cultures we learn to investigate new things, and realize that some things work differently than we previously thought. As life-long students, it is important that we learn to figure out the answer, rather than simply knowing it as fact. In life we may not have the answers, but if we have the courage to accept our ignorance, we will be willing to search out the answer. This virtue to problem solve comes from life lessons, not often from a classroom.
Studying abroad is often the first time we have the chance to learn how to travel and explore a different culture. Take advantage of this time, learn from your mistakes and be glad that you made them. Only by pushing ourselves to our limits, will we see what we can truly accomplish. It is all part of the art of travel, begin your first amateur piece, and go on to become a master.
“The point, after all, is to overcome boredom by engaging young people in active pursuits of meaning, of sense-making with regard to their lived worlds and their own unpredictable lives.” – John Dewey