Your professors were right, studying abroad is one of the absolute best things you can do in your four years as an undergraduate. America is a fortunate country in that we can encounter a multitude of cultures from the west coast to the east, but nothing really compares to be immersed in a culture very different from your everyday one.
I was lucky enough to spend two weeks of my summer in the beautiful country of Ireland completing a research project with the honors program here at Georgia Southern with 10 of my fellow Eagles. It turned out to be one of the best experiences of my life and anytime I see or hear of anything to do with Ireland, my heart yearns for the grassy hillsides and pints of beer just a little bit more.
We drank Guinness, toured thousand year old castles, tried our hand at speaking native Irish and climbed to the top of the oldest working lighthouse in the entire world. Y’know, no big deal.
A downside to America is that it’s a fairly new country in the world so everything we see, even in the more historical cities, is a teenager compared to the centuries old stuff in other countries overseas. For instance, you’ll never see a tower built in the 13th century by Normans anywhere in Georgia but in Ireland and other European countries, there are old towers on every corner like Starbucks in New York City.
If you’re reading this on campus, then your summer plans probably didn’t include studying abroad but it’s definitely not too early to plan for next summer. I planned my trip right as school started this past year, which made things a whole lot easier as the year went by. I was able to save money and plan my class schedule to make sure I got credit for traveling across the sea.
If you’re nervous about being away from family and friends for a long time, technology is a beautiful thing to rely on. Skype and Facebook are great ways to stay in touch with people back home, as long as you mind the time difference so you’re not calling people at 2:30 a.m.
Aside from taking classes and learning about a different culture, you’ll make memories abroad that will stay with you when you’re looking back on college 20 years from now. If you have the chance to study abroad, take it. You won’t regret it.
Gorla is a multimedia journalism major from Warner Robins. She is the current online editor.