Why did I study abroad? So many reasons pop into my mind.

The simplest, it was a requirement of my major. I am fortunate that my university required students in my major to study abroad. The school believes that nothing is more beneficial in life than hands on experience, and I could not agree more. I graduated with a degree in International Studies. I studied the region of Asia for 3 years prior to going abroad and I honestly feel that I learned the most in my college career while I was abroad.

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The second reason I studied abroad was because I heard one of two sentences come up when talking to individuals about studying abroad. The first sentence was “it was the best time of my life, I wish I could go back” and the second was “I didn’t study abroad, and it is something that I have always regretted”. I decided in my first year of college that I did not want to graduate saying “I wish I studied abroad”. I can tell you from personal experience that you will not miss out if you study abroad; you will miss out, guaranteed, if you don’t.

The experiences that you have abroad will change your life forever. You will make life long friends who are on the same page as you and have similar interests and mindsets. Your horizons will be expanded beyond belief. Studying abroad changed me. I can understand how that can be viewed as something frightening, but it’s not that way at all. As cheesy and cliché as it sounds, I found myself when I was abroad. Chances are, if you study abroad you will find yourself too. Every day, you have the opportunity to have new experiences that will inevitably change how you view the world.

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The last reason I studied abroad was to live in a different country. At first, instead of studying abroad, I contemplated simply traveling to a country for a few weeks or participating in a 2-week study abroad experience. Words cannot explain how thankful I am that I didn’t. Prior to studying abroad, I considered myself quite well travelled. At the time I had visited 29 countries spanning 4 continents. Traveling to another country is great, but to live in another country… that’s truly amazing.

At our age,  it is hard to predict when in life you will have five months to go abroad. Believe me when I say, it gets harder and harder as you get older. Things come up–internships, jobs, careers, relationships, and before you know it, you’re past the age that you want to spend five months in another country.

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I studied abroad because I was young enough to do it. I was at an age where I viewed making new friends, eating new cuisines, backpacking, sleeping under the stars or in a hostel as fun experiences. At a certain point, some of those things might become less appealing, so embrace them fully while they are interesting to you.

We all know that time flies by, so don’t waste it…. go abroad. See the world. Sleep in a tent, eat something you have never heard of, learn a new language, embrace a new country and choose to live in it. I promise you wont regret it.

I know I don’t, not one bit.

Brittany Watson is a TEAN Alum and recent graduate from College of Charleston. She studied abroad with TEAN in Chiang Mai, Thailand.