The decision to study abroad is one that many people struggle with. They are afraid they are going to miss school, friends, parents, boyfriends or girlfriends, and they let this fear convince them that studying abroad is not worth it. I want to take the time to tell every single one of you who are on the fence about studying abroad to JUST DO IT! I admit that watching my parents and boyfriend fade into the distance as I walked toward my gate at O’Hare was one of the hardest things that I have ever done, but my time in London has been the experience of a lifetime. I know that I myself have changed since I first arrived. I have grown to be more independent, more open-minded, and more cultured.
There will not be many opportunities in life that are like studying abroad, where you can experience an entire lifestyle rather than seeing that lifestyle through the eyes of a tourist. Having played both of these roles in London, I can easily say that seeing the city through the eyes of a true Londoner has been so much more rewarding.
When I try to explain this to people, I can immediately tell that they are ecstatic for me, but they will never understand. I know that you reading this may grasp what I am trying to say, but no one but my 12 flat mates will ever truly understand what this semester has done for us. That is why it is so important for you to just make the decision to leave your comfort zone. Step outside of your box. You will never know what it is like unless you just do it. After all, you cannot regret something you’ve never done, but if only you knew what awaited you across the pond, you would never regret a single second.
Keri Hodnik is studying abroad in London, England, with the Foundation for International Education (FIE).