College students should take advantage of study abroad experiences

Photo Credit: Alysha Tsuji

Making the jump from high school to college proves to be a huge feat for some, with new people, new classes and a new environment. And in this entire

Photo Credit: Alysha Tsuji

bustle, another type of new experience is often lost: the study abroad experience.

Luckily, I go to Pepperdine University where international programs are highly encouraged as nearly half of the sophomore class goes abroad every year. However, not everyone is as fortunate as other campuses don’t emphasize studying abroad as much compared to the on-campus happenings.

I’ve known way too many friends who are super enthusiastic about involving themselves in international programs at their colleges, who then pass up the opportunity because they felt like it would be too expensive or the application was too lengthy or they weren’t accepted into an abroad program the first time around.

I say, “Where there’s a will, there’s a way.” If you want to study abroad, even just a little bit, don’t hesitate and do whatever you can to make it happen—I speak from first-hand experience.

As a second year college student, I’ve already spent eight weeks studying in London, a week in Israel (as a part of the London summer program) and I’m currently in the process of starting my yearlong school term in London.

Pepperdine is unique in that it offers so many opportunities to study and travel, but I believe that just nine weeks—or three weeks—would be worth it. What many people fail to grasp is the fact that studying abroad is not the same as taking a vacation. It can’t even be compared to going to college on the east coast as a California native.

The international programs experience offers a new sense of independence and truly immerses students into the culture in a different part of the world. Actually living and studying in London or Shanghai or Buenos Aires, can widen one’s worldview in ways unimaginable beforehand.

It may sound as if I’m exaggerating, but I’m not. Spending such a long length of time in a foreign country has taught me tolerance, patience and revealed to me parts of the world I never would’ve seen otherwise, such as Israel. It definitely ripped me out of my comfort zone.

As I said before, making the jump from high school to college can be tough. But even if it is a challenge, you adjust quickly and soon enough, despite what you may tell yourself, you get comfortable. Suddenly moving to a new country sounds intimidating—more intimidating than staying on-campus.

To tell you the truth, it is scary and it definitely takes a leap of faith. At first, I didn’t want to leave my new home in Malibu on the Pepperdine campus, yet my gut told me to leave and I don’t regret any of it. In fact, all I’ve heard are others telling me how much they regret failing to study abroad during college.

College is the perfect time in life to take risks. There’s nothing holding students back except for themselves, which is why they should take full advantage in making the effort to get involved in international programs. Plus, it doesn’t hurt a resume either.

Photo Credit: Alysha Tsuji

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