“Studying abroad changed me.” — The classic phrase we have all heard said by every study abroad student ever immediately after arriving home. However, while sitting here with one week left in my program, I have to admit that, upon reflection, I could say the same thing about my experience.
I am sitting in my contentedness, feeling that I am right where I need to be. In an attempt to keep this short, I will talk about three of the priceless things that I have learned while studying abroad in Buenos Aires.
- Problem solving is one of the most important life skills that I believe cannot be learned without hands-on practice. And let me tell you, studying abroad presents a variety of unexpected challenges where you can practice these skills! However, even with set-backs and unexpected bumps in the road, I feel that I have grown into the discomfort of not having things laid out perfectly. No matter how frustrating situations were in the moment, in hindsight, I would never change the imperfections of each challenging moment because ultimately, that is what made the whole experience so perfect.
- The greatest thing we have in life is people. I am happiest when spending time with those who I love the most. I remember reading a children’s book called “The Three Questions” when I was a child that asked the question: “Who is the most important one?” The answer that is presented is: “The most important one is always the one you are with.” If I have learned one thing about life while studying abroad it is that this is true and the way to find pure happiness is to spend quality time surrounded by people who you love and who make you feel loved. Being able to let go of many responsibilities and truly live in the moment here is something that I will cherish forever because it has allowed me to dedicate the time to intentionally be with others.
- However, this being said, spending time in isolation and taking time for personal reflection can also be one of the most informative and powerful moments of an experience. As someone who struggles to be alone and often finds discomfort in isolation, studying abroad has forced me to challenge myself in this manner. Growing into your person, and moving through the silence while being comfortable with discomfort is where we can expand our self-view and world-view the most.
So yes, in some ways “studying abroad changed me.” But such a simple, cheesy phrase could never begin to encapsulate even a tiny slice of the challenge, growth, and love that I have gained from the last 4 months of my life in Buenos Aires.
Stella Roth is a student at Seattle University and an ISA Featured Blogger. She studied abroad with ISA in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
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