“It’s the small things that count”, or so they always say. However, when it comes to studying abroad, it’s most definitely the little things that make a larger impact than you imagine. Here are a few things I learned during my time abroad.
- Valuing Necessities and Eliminating Clutter
When you study abroad, there is undoubtedly going to be a lot of travel within the country or continent. At the beginning of my studies I would pack rather heavily when I gathered my things for a weekend getaway. As the semester continued, I learned what truly was valuable and what I could do without. It teaches you to get rid of extra clutter and only keep with you what you need. A small lesson that shapes life in a significant way.
The United States has no problem with accepting debit/credit cards nearly everywhere you go, but it’s not like that in many places. Many banks charge extra for using your card internationally. Although this may sound inconvenient, it helps you learn how to budget and plan accordingly by using cash. Many purchases in the states are compulsive buys, but if you’re working with a cash only budget, you can cut out unimportant purchases and be able to better manage money.
- Putting Down the Cell Phone and Enjoying Your Surroundings
Many people I studied with this semester, including myself, could only access the internet on their phone if they were in a Wi-Fi equipped area. Initially we all wondered how we could survive without texting, calling friends, or even simple navigation in a country that was completely new to us. However, as time went on, I noticed many of us didn’t even have a need to use them. By the end of the semester, the only time I would even utilize Wi-Fi was when I got home at the end of the day. There was no need to check my social media accounts while I was out at restaurants or stores. So much of the world is missed by clinging onto these devices for comfort. It was nice to be able to leave the phone out of reach and enjoy conversations and sights for hours upon end without any distractions.
- Take Advantage of All Opportunities
There are definitely times in my life I would pass on an crazy opportunity, but when you’re in another country, you gain the mindset that everything you can possibly do needs to be done. “When’s the next time I’ll be able to body surf the rapids in Spain?” I tell myself as an instructor sends us off into the white raging waters. Although that’s not something I would normally sign up for back home, just the idea of being in a unique place makes the idea much more appealing. Whether those opportunities include traveling every weekend or going forward with something you once feared, you learn to overcome the challenge and become a stronger person.
- Enjoy Your own Company
There’s a stigma that everything you do and everywhere you go, you look like a loner if you don’t have someone with you. However, some of the best things in this world need to be experienced alone. When studying abroad, it becomes evident that everyone has different schedules and agendas that need to be tended to. People travel with certain destinations in mind and activities they want to pursue, and one huge lesson from this is never settle for less. If there’s something you want to do, whether it be something as small as trying out a new restaurant, all the way to experiencing a new country, then you should just do it. It helps you learn about what you like and what captures your attention. Not everything in life should be done alone, but don’t be afraid to take a different path and spend time with yourself. You might just learn something new.
The world awaits…discover it.