Why Studying Abroad is a Great Way to Make Friends

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When people ask me about my travels I could go on and on. I think most people are this way, and the reasoning for that is people want others to be able to experience in some small way what they did. They’re so fond of their adventures that they hope to convey bits and pieces, if nothing else.

It’s difficult to fully explain something when you really just had to be there to appreciate it. I learned this after a few failed attempts of “Peru in a nutshell”. I also figured it out by experiencing the other end. The truth is, when people try to tell other people about their travels it gets old quick. Not always, but sometimes, they are asking you about your trip out of politeness.

That’s just the way it is. Unless you happen to be a gifted story-teller (which I definitely am not) people get bored of hearing about an experience they did not partake in themselves. It’s human nature, so don’t feel too offended by your family and friends’ lack of undivided attention. They’re happy you had a great time, they’re just sick of hearing about what a great time you had.

This is why people who travel together share such a unique bond. They can talk about things that no one else would understand. Experience links people together. The things you do, the people you meet, and the ambiance you feel is all shared with those by your side. Besides, just being in close quarters forces people to break the ice much quicker than otherwise.

The thing with traveling with a friend or group is that you won’t be as open to talking to new people. It’s the way it is. We close off the outside when we’re with people, mostly focused on what’s in front of us. But when we’re alone and able to truly be ourselves, we’re free and open to so many more possibilities. We can talk to whoever we want, and make whatever plans we decide. You’re never really alone — that’s why I love solo travel.

If you don’t want to go alone just yet, and you’re still in school, then you have another option— study abroad. If you have the opportunity to engage in this kind of experience…DO IT. My favorite high school Spanish teacher made a point to talk about this almost every day in class. He urged us to do a study abroad in college. He’s probably the reason I chose Peru, as a matter of fact.

He spoke about it being his favorite place he had traveled yet. Before I went to India, I would’ve agreed with him. But besides the specifics of my experience, I can’t recommend studying abroad to people enough. It really has amazing benefits.

You know when people say it will only be more difficult to travel after college? They’re right. I’m thankful I did some traveling in college because once you graduate there’s almost visible pressure to get a real job. Once you’re not a student anymore, no one entertains your brokeness. You’re thrust out into the world and there’s a panic to become a productive human being.

It can also be cheaper to do a study abroad than to travel to the same place on your own. The price may seem steep, but they really do pack in a lot of mini-trips, activities, and transportation that would cost a lot more separately. Your stay is usually included and the program leaders tend to have great connections and knowledge of the location that make your experience unforgettable. Plus, it’s all planned out for you!

If you can manage to work while in school and save up money to travel it will definitely serve you. Experience in another country not only looks good on a resume, but it benefits your mentality. It shows that you can handle culture shock, exercise independence and responsibility, and thrive among sudden and intense change. Companies look for people with those skills.

Study abroad programs usually travel in groups. They will either consist of home-stay scenarios (where you stay with a local host family) or dorms/apartments where students are paired together in the rooms. I stayed with an amazing Peruvian family and would do the same thing again. Although I can’t speak for the dorm-stay experience, I’m sure that it’s just as great.

Regardless, you get to spend a lot of time with the other students traveling with you. I tried to split my time between my friends and my host family, but either way you make great lasting friendships. You’ll come back with one or more new best friends and hopefully stay in touch with your host family, too. Your experience is something you can reminisce on with the new friends you made long after you return, and it definitely creates the potential for long term connections.

When you put yourself out there, you’d be surprised at how many like-minded individuals you draw in and how many friends you can make that you never would’ve been open to meeting back home.

Born writer + passionate traveler + yoga instructor = content on travel & adventure, mental health & mindfulness, goals & motivation, love & magic ✨

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