Why I Decided to Study Abroad

3.1% of Canadian students choose to study abroad. 

Let that sink in. Honestly, it’s kind of super gross. I went to college after a quick stint as a receptionist. All I wanted was to go back to Europe, but post-secondary is one of those things I thought I really needed. I also wanted to get behind the rope at museums and cultural sites and thought, “Yes, I shall be an archeologist.” I didn’t even know how to spell archeologist. I had never seen Indiana Jones (still haven’t). Imagine my bewilderment when I was walking down the steps from my rude awakening about what archeology really is i.e a physical anthropology lecture, and saw a big sign: “Study Abroad in Europe”.

The program was offered by the college and for four months I’d tour around Rome, Florence, Venice, Lucerne, Paris, and London. The museums would be my classroom and I would be one with Art History (which is a hella lot closer to what I thought archeology was). This was March. The program included a textbook reading and small classroom component in August, and in September I was off.

I loved the learning. There’s something magical about looking at a painting in real life, at the  real time and hearing about it. Also, little tidbits like this:

That’s some graffiti by Michelangelo. Who knows that other than an art history professor?

I’m not going to lie, it wasn’t all sitting at cafe’s in Venice and shopping in London. I had some hard days- I was very ill at the start of the trip in Rome and didn’t find a social group. Everyone was quite clique-y and I kind of got lost in the shuffle. I was told in Florence that everyone thought I was a horrible know it all – a side effect of being to sick to party and actually doing the assignments. Luckily my solo traveller heart kicked in and I still had a great time.

Even with the little social fejula I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything. I grew so much as a learner and a traveller. I learned that social whatever’s didn’t matter as much which has helped me through pretty much every single interaction I’ve had with humans since- especially when I’ve travelled. I’ve learned that if you need to absorb information try looking at it in a more active, realistic way.

Also, I learned that travel isn’t something I can just “get out of my system”.

I did my field school through Langara College, where I was going. The credits are pretty universally transferrable, and they do some continuing ed programs if you just want to take a trip with none of the work. Almost all universities have an international office if you’re not wanting to do the whole tour thing, but instead just want to do a full on exchange. My cousin did one in Milan and literally talked his way backstage at the Versace runway show. Magic.

Some I haven’t been on, but have been wanderlusting pretty hard on:

  • Sea|mester  You spend the amount of time on a yacht learning how to sail, getting your PADI, and taking classes like Marine Biology. Also, they get the most pun points.
  • Where There Be Dragons  These look so beautifully curated. If you read reviews you’ll be just… I don’t even know. I want to go. I wish I had known about these earlier.
  • Kalu Yala You live in an eco town in the middle of the jungle. This is so far in my wheelhouse it hurts.
  • Semester at Sea This is one of the most well known study abroad programs. Mother Teresa and Nelson Mandela were guest lecturers. This program is actually bananas. Block off like 2 hours for the website because that’s seriously how long I took forgetting I was doing a blog post.

If you’ve been on any of these, let me know! I love first hand accounts. Also, you’re probably super cool.

And, if you’re rich as and are all like “damn, I want to drop some cash right now!” I’ll gladly let you fund me on some educational adventure. 😉

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Why I Decided to Study Abroad