The world is big. And one of the most important things you can do in your life is discover just how big it is. That's what studying abroad gives you.
I got the chance to study abroad in London during the spring semester of my sophomore year. I went to five countries in three months. And every country, wrapped and soaked and drowned in its culture, taught me brand new things about myself and about the world.
Going abroad has made me appreciate home more than I could have before I left. I now notice daily the kinks of the United States that make it wonderful: the way the people smile at you on the road, the smell of a fresh apple pie, the tears in peoples' eyes as they hear the Star Spangled banner.
As strange as it sounds, after traveling to five countries, meeting countless people, trying hundreds of new foods, I've discovered that there really is no place like home.
Every place had a different charm and every person had a different story. Without spreading my wings and being tossed out of my comfort zone, I would have continued to think that the world was all hamburgers and American accents. (Both of which are still beautiful to me.)
But Europe, of course, had a special kind of charm.
In the cities of Europe, I found that people move as fast as the cars. Life seems to rush past you so quickly that all that can be done to grasp the moments is to speed up yourself. But because of this, I learned about the beautiful meshing of cities: that the culture of a place is directly tied to the humans, that who they are is so cohesively tied to where they're from, that a city is determined not by its architecture or food or traditions, but by its people.
But that's what matters, right? People. And that's what studying abroad teaches you about. You learn to adapt and adjust to different cultures which teaches you how to understand and love the people within those cultures. When you know more about people, you know more about yourself. When you know more about yourself, you love yourself more. When you love yourself more, you love other people more.
Shelby Scott Harris