Why College Students and Graduates Should Live Abroad
by Jenny Streit
Whether you’re going to study abroad or take a huge leap of faith upon graduation and make a big move or plan an extended trip, go for it! When you have nothing to lose, literally nothing, this is the time to take huge risks. Your career, friends, debt, family, and life will always be there when you get back if you go back.
Here are 8 reasons why you must go abroad:
1. Break out of your comfort zone.
2. Meet absolutely amazing people that turn into lifelong friends.
3. Figure out your career path and what you hate and will never do again.
4. Be independent, fearless and confident.
5. No one can tell you what to do.
6. Learn you can do a lot with little money.
7. It’s a small world, might as well see as much as you can.
8. You’ll forever have amazing stories to tell.
I’m speaking from personal experience. I went to college in South Carolina because I had never been there before nor were any of my friends going there. I wanted a new experience and that is certainly what I got. Now the title of this piece highlights ‘abroad,’ I’ll leap right into studying abroad in Australia.
I wanted to go somewhere new, different, exotic but wasn’t fearless enough to go to a non-English speaking country. So I went as far as possible from home where the locals still spoke my native tongue. When I arrived I learned a few things fast: It was hot in Cairns, Australians have hilariously ridiculous sayings, and being completely exhausted, slightly terrified, and extremely overwhelmed is not as bad as it sounds. Despite the jet lag, lack of knowing anyone and my fear of spiders (apparently Australia is not spider-free) I threw my bags in my dorm and wandered around.
I was nervous, scared, sweaty, and thought no one would want to talk to me. But on the very first day, I met these two girls that turned out to be lifelong friends. I walked over to them and said with huge bouts of confidence, “hi.”
They answered and said “hi” back. One thing led to another and two days later, I was on a bus driving two hours south with one of those girls. Exploring “down under” doesn’t consist of a leisurely walk on the beach.
We went white water rafting down a class 4 rapid, which was the most terrifying river raft trip of my life. We went skydiving, from the highest point you could legally be dropped anywhere in the country -14,000 feet of sheer terror. Since we had to pay for all these, we haggled and managed to get an ocean front bungalow included. You can get a lot for a little when you ask.
To this day, that was one of the most memorable weekend trips of my life. Seven years later, that girl even flew from California to Turks and Caicos to come to my wedding.
After college, I got my first job at home. I was so excited; I moved right up to Massachusetts after graduation and began working immediately. Shortly after starting, I lost the excitement. A tree fell on my car. We got over a foot of snow in October. I thought to myself, maybe I shouldn’t have gone straight into this; maybe I should do something else, something crazy.
So I did.
I packed my bags, got a work permit and moved to the Cayman Islands. I remember sitting and waiting in the Miami airport as the passengers began boarding. I asked myself, “What am I doing?”
It was a terrible idea. I knew no one there. I only had been there once on a family vacation about ten years prior. I probably didn’t pack enough sunscreen. There was a lot of panic and the voices in my head were telling me to slowly back peddle and run. Fly back home, it was safe, it was where I belonged. But I didn’t, I got on the plane, cried quietly, and flew to my new home.
You often hear people say, “Man, I wish I had done this or wish I had done that,” this was one of those. I ended up staying for a year, basically, until immigrations kept calling because I had no work permit anymore and was overstaying. I managed a restaurant in a touristy section of the 14-mile long island.
After about a month of living on the island, I developed these absolutely amazing relationships with people from all walks of life. The bonds made were as close as family. In fact, we often had “family meals” together, watched movies like brothers and sisters growing up together, shared secrets, and genuinely cared about these people whom I had just met. They were my family away from home.
I learned that I never wanted to manage a restaurant again. Working 100+ hour work weeks wasn’t my style. I learned that I absolutely loved working with people and hearing stories their stories. The restaurant was on a boat and met a guy who worked for my aunt in Boston. Apparently, the world was smaller than I thought.
To sum it up, move abroad, live abroad, take a really long trip with no itinerary. Whichever works for you, my advice is simple: Just do it, you won’t regret it.
About the Author
Jenny Streit is an entrepreneur, recruiter, and writer. She graduated from the University of South Carolina with major in Hospitality Management. She loves traveling and exploring new cultures. She spends her free time playing cards with her husband, eating her way through the West Village, and boating around the Hudson.
Image Credit: Pixabay