8 Unexpected Ways Studying Abroad Changed The Course Of My Life

by Ciara Johnson

Honestly, studying abroad was the best thing I did in college. I was fortunate enough to participate in study abroad programs in Panama, South Africa, and India. I had no idea that these experiences would change the entire course of my life. After my first study abroad trip, I was hooked. I signed up for several more, and knew that travel would be a major part of my life from that point forward. Studying abroad changed the course of my life (in the best ways possible), and it just might have a similar impact on yours, too.

My first study abroad trip took place in Panama. I spent a week with an indigenous community, learning about their way of life. This was the first time I'd ever left the U.S., and the lifestyle in Panama couldn't have been more different than the one I was used to back home. I fell in love with the culture and learning about it directly from the source. I then went on to study abroad in South Africa and India.

I left every trip with a new mindset and outlook towards life. I wanted to share my experiences with everyone I knew, which led me to start a travel blog. I now have a career in travel, and I can attribute that to my first study abroad experience. I had no idea where it would lead me, and I'm so glad I took that leap.

I Now Travel The World For A Living...
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I always dreamed of being a world traveler, but I didn't think it would happen so soon. After I studied abroad, I knew that I wanted to find a job that allowed me to pursue my wanderlust. I worked in a corporate job for two years while saving money, then I quit to travel the globe. Fortunately, I'm still going strong. I now write about travel for a living, and inspire others to chase their travel dreams, too.

...And Live Outside Of My Comfort Zone
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Studying abroad took me outside of my comfort zone. It introduced me to bigger and better things. I'm now aware that an extraordinary life exists outside the bubble you're used to, and all you have to do is take that first step.

I have no problem walking into the unknown. I've since explored the world solo, and am able to say I backpacked through 12 different countries in 12 months.

It Changed The Way I View Money
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I worked several jobs to pay for my study abroad trip, and it paid off in more ways than I can count. Now, I funnel my money towards experiences instead of things, because I know how valuable they are. The world can teach me so much more than fancy clothes and cars ever could.

I Am More Confident
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Before leaving the country on my study abroad trip, I described myself as being shy. Having conversations with people who speak different languages and wandering new lands on my own have given me the confidence to enter any situation eager to learn.

I Am More Independent
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I've always been independent, but my study abroad experience showed me that I can truly conquer anything if I put my mind to it. This was my first time leaving the country, and I discovered that I was capable of thriving in a new, totally different environment. I feel comfortable chasing my dreams, whether I have family or friends by my side.

I Am A Life-Long Learner
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I no longer believe that learning only takes place inside the classroom. My study abroad experiences taught me more than I ever learned from a textbook. When I put myself out there and asked real people real questions, I was able to discover so much more about human interaction. When I left my hometown, I was able to discover more about the world than I ever knew. I now know that I can choose to learn more, whether I'm in school or not.

I Have A Positive Mindset
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I've lost luggage and spent hours wandering streets, not knowing where I was going. As a result, I've learned to overcome any hurdles that may come my way. There's no point in complaining or sulking about it, and study abroad has taught me to keep going, because it's never the end of the world when you miss a flight; there's always the next one to catch.

I Have The Travel Bug For Life
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After my first study abroad experience, I knew that there was no turning back. I was hooked and I wanted to see more of the world. I've been exposed to wanderlust, so there's no way I can live my life in solely one place now. Our world is grand, and I want to explore it while I can. I don't think that's going to change anytime soon.