Study Abroad: Overseas ventures offer unique, gratifying experiences

‘Tis the season—no, not for Christmas, but for study abroad applications. From the brochures with gleaming cities on them to the flags hanging in the MacVittie College Union to Facebook posts from fellow students away in exotic countries, study abroad is all around us.

According to Geneseo’s website, the college has the highest rate of students who study abroad in any State University of New York school at 40 percent in 2012—and statistics from the National Association of International Educators reports that only 1 percent of all United States students enrolled in higher education study abroad.

College is the time to get out of your comfort zone and have fun—that definitely includes traveling. This leads one to wonder why the percentage of students who go abroad is so low. The issue of cost is definitely a factor for many, as well as being so far away from home, making sure credits transfer and missing being at school with friends.

There are plenty of reasons that one could list for not studying abroad, but the rewards of getting to live and study in a foreign place while experiencing a new culture seem to be valued highly enough by Geneseo students to try it.

If you still feel indecisive about studying abroad, the SUNY study abroad page has tons of helpful resources as well as a list of their top reasons why students should study abroad. While everyone’s decision to go abroad is ultimately made up of different perspectives, here are some of the most universal, enticing elements of the experience.

The great thing about SUNY study abroad is that you can travel almost anywhere—the system offers over 600 different study abroad programs. It’s like going on vacation, but even better. If you want to travel around while you study abroad, it’s infinitely easier than any other time. You can study abroad in Paris and travel to Italy, Spain or Switzerland on the weekend.

Another perk of studying abroad is the opportunity to learn—or finally practice—a new language. Being able to apply a language like French or Spanish that you took all throughout high school is incredibly fulfilling and learning a new language—even just the basics—can be a very useful skill in today’s globally-driven economy.

Becoming more independent is a great takeaway from living abroad. You’ve gone to college and kept yourself alive, but going to another country where mom and dad aren’t a drive or text away can make a huge difference. It will be scary, yes, but you will learn how to navigate a city and how to figure out what to order when you can’t read a menu.

Immersing yourself in a different culture for an extended amount of time is an opportunity that very few people have. It can be daunting going to a place where their norms are completely different from what you are accustomed to, but it is also a great learning experience. You may come to appreciate things you take for granted at home or find that you love a new way of life.

Many people say studying abroad was the best decision they ever made, while many others wish they had taken the opportunity to travel while they were in undergrad. Don’t miss your opportunity to apply. Break out of the comfort zone, apply for a program and take advantage of this chance of a lifetime.