Why I Regret Not Studying Abroad My Senior Year of College
College is full of so much hope and promise.
It's your first taste of adulthood, giving you the chance to really discover who you are outside of your comfort zone. Many take this time to attend school out of state, to be as far away from their family as possible. Others use these four years or so to set themselves up for future successes.
That freedom you've been longing for is finally at your fingertips.
I like to think I made the most of my college experience, though there was one huge part I regret missing out on. No, it wasn't rushing a sorority, it was not jumping at the chance to study abroad.
If I could travel back in time to tell my college self one thing, it would be to go. Don't hesitate, just go. Because I can't do that (or at least not until Elon Musk figures out a way to make time travel possible), I want to encourage all of you to learn from my mistake.
Keep reading to discover why I regret not studying abroad!
It Held Me Back in Life
Though the travel bug didn't bite me until later in life, I was always intrigued by the prospect of it. Still, I didn't act on it. I grew up in a family that instilled this idea of needing to be a good worker bee in me at a very young age. I figured I had to do really well in high school and get good grades, so I could go to a credited university and get good grades there. Then, I'd find a job and work until I die. I figured that seemed legit, so I didn't stray from that path. I did everything according to my parents' plan. Specifically, my mom's plan.
As I grew older and started attending college, I realized this journey wasn't all it was cracked up to be. Still, I didn't want to disappoint my parents, so I worked incredibly hard to get good grades, took on internships, part-time jobs, and eventually graduated with a full-time job. What sounded great at the time ended up leaving me with this incomplete feeling.
I never got the chance to essentially find myself, as I was too busy sticking to the agenda someone else worked out for me. When I was a senior in college, I desperately wanted to study abroad as a way to discover who I was outside of the person everyone else expected me to be. My mom quickly shut that idea down, noting all the responsibilities I had on my plate. I couldn't leave my part-time job, internship, or home life to go study abroad for a few months. So, I decided to stay behind and do what she thought was best.
Because I didn't stick up for myself or what I wanted, this trend continued on in my post-grad life for quite some time. I would say up until I turned 27 last year, I put up with everyone's you know what. Had I found a way to muster up enough courage to do what I wanted to do, I feel as though I could've gone a lot further by now in life.
Though I learned this lesson eventually, I encourage you to learn it before it's too late.
It's Generally Cheaper (and Easier) to Study Abroad
Even when budgeted right, traveling isn't ever something I would describe as inexpensive. You could volunteer for accommodation while you're staying in Ireland, but the plane ticket can still cost hundreds of dollars. If you find a cheap flight and cheap accommodation, you're still the one responsible for planning out the entire trip. It all falls on you.
Obviously, studying abroad isn't that much less than doing it yourself, but they really can be. Not to mention, you essentially just have to sign the check and your school will figure most of it out for you. I would give anything to go on a trip where all I had to do was sign a check and have someone do the dirty work for me.
I'm sure those types of programs exist, though I wouldn't trust them as much as I would a college study abroad program.
Finding Time to Travel as a Full-Time Employee Is Way More Difficult
Obviously, not studying abroad during college doesn't mean I'll never be able to travel. Still, it's way more difficult to take time off and figure out when the best time to put my life on hold is now than it would've been when I were in college.
When I was fresh into my 20s, general life events didn't concern me all that much if I missed them. Didn't make it to my younger sister's middle school graduation? Oh well. Missed out on a spectacular New Year's Eve shindig with friends? Okay. Now as I grow older, I feel bad for missing my best friend's cousin's dog's wedding.
On top of that, taking time off a full-time job to travel isn't all that easy. Sure, I have PTO and make sure I save it up for when I need it, but some places frown upon you taking two weeks off to backpack through New Zealand. You have to make up for all that work you missed out on, or work ahead and hope you get it all sorted out before you go.
The years bring more responsibility, making it all the more difficult to find time to explore the world. So do it while you have that free time.
I Feel Like I Missed Out
More than anything, I feel as though I really missed out on something great by not studying abroad. Because of that, I feel as though I have to make up for all those missed opportunities. And as I mentioned just a few sentences ago, it's not as easy doing that as I thought it would be.
I went straight into the workforce immediately after I graduated, because I thought I had to. It seemed like the best decision, but I think taking a semester off to travel would've been even better. I would've had the chance to meet new people, see extraordinary things, and really discover what I'm capable of.
I let fear dictate my life, which is never something you should do. If you're scared of studying abroad, that's all the more reason to do it. If you're worried about finances, I promise you can find a way to work it all out. If you're nervous to miss an important life milestone, know you could miss out on something simply because you were sleeping.
Life passes us all by each and every day, so make the most of the opportunities that present themselves to you.
Have the college years already passed you by? It's not to late to travel. Here's why 2020 is the perfect year to see the world.