Hailey Donohue is a student at Northern Michigan University and an ISA Featured Blogger. She studied abroad through ISA Service Learning in Meknes, Morocco.
It seems like, as a current undergraduate student, every classmate I speak to is either abroad, awaiting their date of departure, or somewhere deep in the planning process to study in a foreign country. The following five reasons explain why and how I know that this current trend of student travel is more than just a way for those in their own country to explore the world, but is important for the world we live in.
Studying abroad fosters self-love
Morocco did something in my first week here that many people spend years searching or waiting for. Morocco shifted my attention from inward to the brilliant beauty of the surrounding unfamiliar world. Studying abroad in Morocco has continued to maintain this effect on me, forcing me to absorb the new with an open mind and wide eyes while experiencing this same attitude mirrored back as I view myself and my capabilities. Studying abroad is important in a world of self-critique.
Studying abroad exposes the bigger picture
No matter how prepared I believed I was before my departure, I know now that no amount of researching could have prepared me for the feelings that came with the overwhelming “newness” of Morocco. I was never told of the immediate change in perspective that came with being so far from home. In a seemingly new world, I caught myself paying attention to the values, affections, and ideals of Moroccans. This taught me to look at the bigger picture, things that are often clouded by the mundane and familiarity of everyday life.
Studying abroad produces genuine connection
Immersing myself in completely foreign languages in Morocco, I’ve fought daily to communicate with others. This being said, I’ve been forced to focus all my efforts on communicating what is worth being said. Stripping away the ability to fill empty silence with empty words makes room for connections formed solely on the things that matter. This makes studying abroad so beneficial in a world of chaos and distraction.
Studying abroad is guaranteed to humble you
Needless to say, being immersed in difference reveals just how little one knows about the world. I can wholeheartedly say that my pride has been adjusted due to my time here…in the most wonderful way. Adjusting my impression of what I know the world to be has been an entirely positive change thus far, and I expect it to continue. In a world of outward appearances, this makes studying abroad important.
Studying abroad reveals authentic reciprocity
Working with the world around you to both understand and be understood is a beautiful way to open the doorway to real reciprocity. The people of Morocco have, and continue to, astonish me in their efforts to comprehend what I want to communicate, as well as who I really am. I have been touched by those attitudes that ignore and surpass stereotypes to both give and gain from someone completely different from oneself. Reciprocity and understanding are priceless in the world we live in.
The world awaits…discover it.