Traveling is essential to human learning. We develop skills through experience, whether it is personal or learned. Not every trip consists of living in another part of the world for an amount of time. Studying abroad is an experience that teaches students beyond the classroom. Social anxiety is becoming an epidemic in The States, and I feel now more than ever students should study abroad.
Studying abroad taught me how step outside of my comfort zone. When I landed in Costa Rica, my nerves were so bad, my arm was twitching. My brain was overstimulated. I could not register in my mind that I had actually left everything behind. It was hard to accept all of these emotions at once. I felt very alone, yet very eager. This was the first step.
Once I started getting in the groove of things, I realized how important networking was. Independence is preached in the States, which is a good thing, but it also helps form this awkward social cloud that is guiding our youth. I started to make connections with peers who had very different walks of life. I met UTC students that I had never seen on my own campus before. I made Costa Rican friends. This was the second step.
Toward the end of my trip, I felt a sense of familiarity that was a given back home. My host family became ‘normal’. My walks to school every morning became ‘normal’. Meeting with certain people became ‘normal’. This normalcy that was once a stranger found a way into my life. I realized in this moment, I can make anywhere home – even inside myself. I found a new home within my own mind and body. I gained a new-found respect for my country. Most importantly, it made me love my family deeper than ever before.
This was the last step. I passed this test, and now I know I can pass every test after this.
Rachel Hogh is majoring in Spanish and spent 5-weeks over Summer 2019 studying abroad in San Jose, Costa Rica through a Spanish department faculty-led trip organized by CISabroad. Rachel had the following to say about studying abroad, “I think students should study abroad so that they can expand their academic and personal knowledge.”
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