4 Ways Studying Abroad Makes You A Better Person
Students have heard countless times how studying abroad is full of life-changing experiences. There is no doubt that those who are able to live abroad have both earned and been provided with a positive opportunity to learn about a multitude of cultures and people. Considering life abroad and the challenges that come with it, it is a momentous occasion to take the time to learn to be a better person.
While that may sound pretentious, it is much easier than one might think. It can even be considered a passive action within your experiences there. For example, after I returned home from my time abroad, I was able to analyze my time there and realized that I had changed as a person. Although it may not have been considerably evident to friends or family, I was able to conceptualize my time abroad as a personal growth and realized that I was now able to view myself in a more positive light.
Most of what I discuss below are traits that continually helped me during my time abroad and aided in allowing myself to grow as a person. While my experiences may be different than others, I do think the majority of what I found to be helpful is applicable to a wide variety of students.
Prioritizing Your Mental Health:
First and foremost, caring for yourself is the most valuable tool to learn while abroad. Some people have already mastered understanding what you need to have a positive experience in any situation. However, there is nothing wrong with using your experiences abroad as a learning tool to bettering your personal health.
There are a fair amount of people who don’t realize the importance of understanding their own personal wellbeing, besides that of physical health. It is equally as important to make sure that your mental health is being properly cared for, especially when in an unfamiliar setting. Living abroad can be scary for some people and there are often difficulties concerning anxiety, culture shock, making and maintains relationships, and keeping up with a different system of education. Taking the time to understanding how you feel after big changes such as these can allow you to properly accept events and adapt to them in a positive manner. There are even some who realize that being abroad is detrimental to their personal health and that’s okay! While trying new things and pushing yourself is important, there is nothing more crucial than your own well-being.
Properly taking care of yourself can mean different things for different people. For some, it could be a relatively simple routine that leads to proper health. However, for others more intensive effort may be necessary to feel at a good place. There is absolutely no shame in talking to a healthcare professional about issues you may be having when abroad or even after returning home. Remember, health issues don’t always go away on their own. Realizing the value of your own personal wellbeing is a great tool to becoming a better person as after you are able to understand your own needs, you can easily be more sympathetic to others.
Being Sensitive to Others:
After realizing your own personal needs, it can be easier to understand others during your time abroad. Considering other students, while people are generally incredibly adaptable, it takes longer for some to become completely comfortable in a new atmosphere. You, as a fellow traveler, should respect that certain people may need more time to properly assimilate to a lifestyle that can be completely different than their usual routine. Accepting other people’s limitations demonstrates a friendly understanding that people do sometimes need different things to feel truly at ease. Respecting boundaries is valuable to learn while abroad.
Since you are often in contact with people of varying cultures, indicating acceptance is an easy way to build relationships and a further understanding of people. Being willing to talk to people about sensitive topics, accepting that there are so many differing opinions in the world, and realizing the opportunity that you have been given (where you can discuss and hear about issues) as an incredible one.
You are not going to like everyone you meet abroad, let alone agree with every opinion that each individual has. Yet, by making the most out of your experiences with other people, you can return to your home country with a more diverse understanding of the world.
Accepting Your Independence:
There is no greater personal independence than living alone in a foreign country. Understanding your actions and the consequences they can have can be a frightening thought. There is undoubtedly less protection when you are living in a foreign country. However, by realizing this, you can easily become more mature and have a greater understanding of how the adult life works.
In exploring the independence you instantly gained while abroad, you are much more likely to be able to adapt better to future situations. You will be thrown a few curve balls while abroad and your experience with them allows for personal growth. It can, of course, be terrifying to be alone in a foreign country; but there comes a point where you can appreciate that the experience has led to you being a stronger person. Whenever you have some sort of self-doubt about your personal strength, you can quickly remember that you lived alone in a foreign country. It is a confidence booster, to be sure.
Maintaining Relationships after Going Home:
When you return home after your time abroad, it can be very easy to fall into the similar routine you once had before you left. Perhaps one of the best ways to remember your time abroad is by simply maintaining the relationships you made. It can be difficult, but it is absolutely worthwhile to continue to talk and even write to the friends you made. Relationships require effort and there is no doubt that it can be difficult to continue them at a great distance. However, being apart can lead to even more growth within a relationship both platonic and romantic. Missing someone is a powerful thing and by presenting those you care about with the opportunity to show how much you appreciate them and their companionship, you too can grow as a person.
Living abroad is equally as difficult as it is satisfying. Making sure to take every experience is important, but learning from it is even more valuable.