How Study Abroad Changed My Future Plans

Bentley Porterfield is a student at the University of San Diego and an ISA Featured Blogger. She is currently studying abroad with ISA in Dunedin, New Zealand

It is hard to believe that when I return to school in the fall, I will already be a senior. The thought of finishing college used to scare the living daylights out of me. Thoughts of graduation were often accompanied with self-induced pressure to have a perfectly planned career path. But I am not scared anymore. Studying abroad has made it ok for me not to know exactly what I want to be when I grow up.

Graduating high school, I thought I knew exactly what I wanted to do with my life. I would go to university, take the MCAT, go to med school and BOOM, just like that I would be an orthopedic surgeon. Sounded like a good plan at the time but a lot has changed since high school. My interests have diversified, my world has expanded, and I daydream daily about possibilities, about what I can “be” when I grow up.

The minute I landed in New Zealand, my adventurous spirit came to life and I am so thankful for that.  Here I seek adventure everyday. I have met amazing people from all over the world and explored beautiful landscapes. I have no idea what I am doing after graduation and I have never been happier.

Traveling and studying abroad has opened my eyes to the real world. I find myself rewriting the carefully structured script I thought I needed to follow to be successful. The world is exciting! It presents endless possibilities; there are so many things left to experience, so many cultures to explore and places I want live. I do not need (or want) to be in a rush to settle down in a career as soon as I graduate next May. I may be a college graduate at that point, but there is still so much to learn.

During my time abroad, I have realized that I am no longer in a rush to grow up. Being young gives me the opportunities to experience independence and be flexible with my aspirations.  I have met new people and made meaningful connections which can open just as many doors, if not more, than obsessing over getting perfect grades and confining my studies to the classroom. I am saying goodbye to a meticulously mapped out post-graduation plan and instead of doing things that look good on paper, I am doing things that I enjoy and things I find intellectually stimulating.

My choices now reflect my priorities and bring me closer to my goals.  I am aware of the preciousness of youth and I want to spend my twenties seeking adventures to fill my soul, not money to fill my pockets. I am on a journey to learn about myself and discover my passions. Only then will I be able to find a career that I truly enjoy.  



The world awaits…discover it.

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