Studying abroad could definitely be one of the most beneficial experiences in my entire life. Before I start getting into the main topic, let me give you a little introduction. I started having a desire to study abroad when I was still in elementary school, as young as 10 or 11 years old. Ever since then, I have been taking as many opportunities as I could.
My very first study abroad experience was in a short-term exchange program in Australia, which I participated in when I was in grade 9. Even though it was a short-term program, it gave me a lot of new perspectives towards different cultures and languages, and it made me want to learn more outside of Japan.
My second experience was when I was in grade 11. I participated in a summer study program for a month at Cambridge University in the United Kingdom. Not only was I amazed by the beautiful buildings of Cambridge, but I also found myself happy in different environment.
Finally, I got to study in Maui for a semester when I was in my junior year of college in Japan, which led me to continue studying at college in the United States. And here I am now, in Florida! Through all of these experiences studying outside of Japan, it literally made my life completely different from what I was expecting. It made my life better and more fulfilling. Now let’s get into some of the reasons why I think studying abroad is great.
You will find different values and different perspectives
When you put yourself in different environment, you get to experience so many brand-new things such as customs, cultures, and activities. You might feel uncomfortable at first because you are forced to be out of your comfort zone in a new country. It is true that many people studying abroad experience culture shock by facing some challenging, frustrating, and shocking situations. That happened to me too.
However, what you gain through studying abroad makes it worth it. Believe me! All of the new experiences will give you different perspectives that you did not have before, which will allow you to grow personally and into more independent person. Staying outside of your home country for a long period of time and seeing the world makes you aware of how ignorant you are (in a good way). You become aware of how much is out there to know about and learn about. You will never know how the rest of the world is until you actually go abroad!
Study abroad friends are lifelong
One of the most beneficial things about studying abroad is having the ability to meet people from all over the world. While studying abroad, not only do you become friends with students from your host country, but you will also meet students that come from a variety of different backgrounds. Why are study abroad friends lifelong? Because most of your friends have a somewhat similar vision, and you are going through the exact same experiences together. You and your friends will inspire and motivate each other. Actually, I still communicate with some of the friends I met in Maui, even after all of us went back to our home countries. Here in Florida, I met people that are from different countries as well, and I am hoping to keep in touch with them even after I finish my program here.
You will get more awareness of your own country
Once you are in a different country, it is obvious that you would become more aware of different cultures. But it also makes you reflect and think about your own country’s people, culture, food, and other things. The thing I miss the most about Japan is the food. Even though I can still eat at Japanese restaurants here, and I can cook for myself, it is hard to find an authentic restaurant or ingredients that I need for home cooking.
I think that the work/life balance is a lot better in the U.S. than in Japan. In Japan, many people are forced to work overtime, and it is still hard for people to get paid time off. I knew Japan has overworking problems, but observing how my host family and friends work here in the U.S. made me think more seriously about it.
I found that speaking about my country with non-Japanese people was interesting. Some of these people have the same perspective as me of Japan, in terms of food and people. This made me aware of the ways my own country is perceived in a different country as well.
Why study abroad?
These are just some examples, and I know that there are other benefits as well. I believe studying abroad surely is a great experience that cannot be compared to anything else. You learn a lot, gain an understanding of a different culture, and all of your experiences will allow you grow as a person. If you are thinking about studying abroad (even a little bit), I highly recommend you not to hesitate and just do it! You will not have any regrets, and it will change your life.
|Ayako Miyakoshi from Japan is pursuing an AS degree in accounting at Hillsborough Community College (HCC).
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