Independence 101: What I’ve Gained From Studying Abroad
More Than Fun
“You should study abroad in college; have fun while you’re young!” This sentiment was shared with me countless times, especially once I committed to Arcadia, one of the top schools for studying abroad.
So, I did.
I’ve been studying at the Arcadia London Center with our FYSAE (First Year Study Abroad Experience) Program since mid-January. And while it has been so much fun, I’m also seeing how much I gain beyond the enjoyment from this experience.
Oftentimes, when students are looking into studying abroad, we focus on the fun: easy travel to different countries, freedom to explore a new country with our friends… legal drinking ages… the list goes on.
While, yes, there is a ton of fun in studying abroad, I would argue that there are benefits that extend even further than memories. Studying abroad teaches students responsibility and lessons that they can’t always gain back home.
This may surprise some, but I, as a busy, frazzle-minded, 18-year-old student, do not have the best time-management skills. Yes, I know, it’s quite shocking.
One thing I can already appreciate from coming to school in London is the fact that, to get from my living quarters to my classes, it is a 40-minute commute. Very different from the Glenside campus, where each building is a five-minute walk from one another.
I have to plan ahead. I have to take into account rush-hour traffic, train delays, how fast I’m willing to walk, etc. I appreciate this because it more closely reflects what I will experience once I’m working full-time, commuting to work each day.
One aspect of studying abroad that is often brought up, yet oversimplified, is just how many opportunities there are to explore. Traveling, going out to a bar or club, going to see a show at a theater; the possibilities are endless.
What isn’t endless, however, are the funds that I have to do these things.
Now, if I want to go out, I have to think ahead, “Can I afford to do xyz, or should I opt out of one activity to give myself more freedom and money to do another?” Being on my own has really forced me to recognize the value of a dollar and how to better plan my time out.
By being forced to be financially independent while abroad, my friends and I are learning how to properly budget and cut back when necessary. This has also given us a greater appreciation for the things that we choose to splurge on.
Another big difference between here and school back home is the fact that I do not have a meal plan. They aren’t offered abroad. This, of course, means I have two options: spend an alarming amount of money going out to eat or learn how to budget and grocery-shop.
By saving money and grocery-shopping, I have also been able to cook for myself more. This has given me the opportunity to better my skills in the kitchen, as well as spend some quality time with my flatmates while we cook.
The biggest takeaway from my experience abroad thus far has definitely been the amount of responsibility that I have gained.
At home, I’m an adult, but I live on a small campus, where I have my family nearby and all of my meals prepared for me. Here, I’m an adult in the sense that I’m on my own, away from my family, commuting to school and cooking for myself. I am responsible for myself 100% of the time now.
This experience has made me realize how coddled I was at home. Being abroad has given me a lot of seemingly simple, yet crucial, life skills that I wouldn’t have gotten until after graduating college in America.
So, if you’re thinking about studying abroad, I say go for it! The benefits and lessons gained from Arcadia’s global studies programs are priceless.