We asked and you answered! In our last installment of Q&A, we asked,
Why should guys study abroad?
Males are a historically underrepresented demographic on study abroad programs. If you’re a dude who studied abroad, we want to know: What caused you to study abroad? Why should other guys go abroad?
1. When it comes to my experience, I would tell guys to go out there (wherever the location is) and enjoy it. I don’t know what keeps guys from studying abroad, but I know for me I was worried about missing the NBA Finals (Go Spurs Go!) and the college experience here in the US. Other setbacks could be classes you need to take, events with friends, or even money. You can talk with your study abroad advisor, major advisor, and financial aid to make study abroad happen. It’s a once in a lifetime experience, so do whatever it takes to achieve the experience.
-Ian Danquah, Madrid, Spain, Summer 2014
2. Why should guys study abroad? FOR THE EXPERIENCE! I can’t tell you how many adventures I have had while here in Ireland, all the nights of going out and hanging with friends at a pub or even a club. It was an amazing experience that I wish I could relive over and over again. Being the only guy isn’t so bad, especially when the girls here are so welcoming! Guys should study abroad to break out from their safe place and live those stories we hear and wish we could live.
-Ismael Orozco, Galway, Ireland, Spring 2015
3. Beyond language barriers, culture shock, and even homesickness, studying abroad is an experience that only makes you have a greater understanding of yourself and what you want from this amazing world. Who doesn’t love food, travel and getting to know unique people? I can honestly say that I miss the friends and family overseas as much as I miss my friends and family at home. With my current studies in Paris, I am blessed to say that I have lived in three different continents and countries besides my hometown Caracas, Venezuela. Now I realize, beyond nationality boundaries, that I am not limited to being only Venezuelan, South African, American or French. If home is where your heart is then I must be a citizen of the world, and that is such an incredible feeling to have. Guy or girl, it is all about becoming the best you can be, and this is just another great opportunity life offers us to do so.
-Alejandro Brillembourg, Paris, France, Spring 2015
4. Weighing the cost of study abroad? You are paying for far more than a vacation or some cool Instagram photos… you are investing in an exciting and worthwhile life experience where you will learn important life skills, enhance your education and global knowledge, and separate yourself from your peers in the job market. Not to mention I was one of 5 guys in a group with 31 girls. But hey, who’s counting?
-Logan Smith, Granada, Spain, Summer 2013
5. There are about 10 guys and 50 gals in my study abroad group. If I could venture a guess, guys back home are simply too determined to finish school or too comfortable where they are to venture elsewhere, which is a shame! Guys should study abroad because it forces them out of their comfort zone into a position where they have to take the lead and watch out for others. They will meet other students from around the United States and around the world, and learn how to network cross-culturally. Not knowing social contexts puts them on guard in a healthy way: they’ll learn to make their intentions clear, be efficient travelers, and become more conscientious of public appearance.
It teaches guys more about themselves than ever before. Living abroad can be isolating, but gives the opportunity to push themselves to do new things. Guys should study abroad because it’s a window into more of the world than you can learn from at home. It can show you how to use the degree you’re going for, or it can give you whole new ideas of things to do after college!
-Joshua McKibbin, Thessaloniki, Greece, Spring 2015
6. I find that men more often than women prefer to think of ourselves as tough and risk-seeking, but when we step back and think about it, this is often only the case when those experiences are on our own terms. By branching out from the comfort of our home turf, our close group of friends, our family, and even our native language, something in us just clicks, making life appear more three-dimensional. Study abroad makes us realize that it can be okay to look foolish or feel vulnerable–and in fact, doing so makes us even stronger in the long-run!
-Matt Gulizia, France Site Specialist, Paris, France, Summer 2009 Alum
7. At the risk of generalizing men, I would have to say that the biggest inhibitor of a guy experiencing a life abroad is simply indifference. I grew up in a state where a man is adamantly proud of where he comes from–where the majority of the guys have a farming background to some degree and literally rebel against the idea of studying abroad! Don’t get me wrong, I’ve seen the world, and nothing compares to a western Nebraska sunset after an afternoon storm; it’s my home. I also know nothing compares to a meal shared with perfect strangers along the Seine or the Parisian skyline from the top of Sacre Coeur. The majority of the guys I’ve met in Nebraska, much more so than the women, don’t want to learn a second language, they don’t want to experience a new place, because they are already content; but in the words of the great Billy Joel, “Only fools are satisfied.” I think being satisfied, or indifferent is a guy’s biggest problem with studying abroad. They simply don’t consider it. Women in general have a greater wanderlust than men, and I think the first step in getting men to subscribe to the notion that studying abroad is life changing is to get them out of the mindset that nothing could be better than what they have. Once, you’re convinced of this, men, The world is yours to explore.
-Josh Valdez, Paris, France, Spring 2014
8. Why shouldn’t guys study abroad? Someone’s sex or gender (race, age, religion or orientation as well) shouldn’t hinder anyone from traveling and exploring what the world has to offer.
-Daniel Dawson, Salamanca, Spain, Spring 2015
We couldn’t agree more, gentlemen.
FOR NEXT WEEK, WE WANT TO ASK YOU:
What’s the most embarrassing thing that happened to you abroad?
When you’re exposed to a new culture, you encounter vast new opportunities to totally humiliate yourself. Moments like when you mistook the world l’amour (love) for the word la mort (death) in a key conversation with your host family make for great stories, and more importantly, allow you to laugh and remember that life doesn’t have to be so serious. We know you have that story from your time abroad–everybody does. So comment here, on the ISA Facebook page, or email your 50-100 word answer to firstname.lastname@example.org. Any ISA student or alum is welcome to contribute!