Last weekend, I attended the annual Worthington Crailsheim International Inc. banquet and got to hear about the experiences of students who have previously received the scholarship. They talked about the many places they visited while in Germany, and the people they met who at first were strangers and later became family. One of the speakers even had a hard time finishing her speech because she was choking up with tears.
While listening to each of one of them saying how studying abroad has changed their lives, I couldn’t stop thinking about the impact that studying abroad has had on my life. As a native from Ecuador, I first moved to Peru when I was 16. I stayed there for two years to finish high school, and then came to the United States to go to college. I can say from experience that none of the speakers who spoke that day were exaggerating about how studying abroad has changed their lives.
It’s one of those things in life that at first scares the heck out of you — especially when you don’t speak the same language. It’s really a mix of feelings, from excitement of getting to know a new place to a fear to the unknown at the same time. The “honeymoon stage” is what I like to call the first few months of your journey. It’s a stage where everything seems exciting and new. When the honeymoon stage comes to an end and you start falling into a routine, everything starts to become a little bit more complicated. When I was in that stage while in college, I would miss every insignificant thing from back home, from the stain on my carpet to my older sister bugging me.
However, being homesick is not an everlasting feeling — or at least it shouldn’t be. Little by little, you adapt to your new environment. I went to so many new places, and I got to know people from all parts of the world who helped me develop into the open-minded person I am today. I learned to fix my own problems without calling my mom or dad.
It doesn’t matter if I write a description of a thousand words, it just won’t give justice to the experience. So my advice, if you have the chance to study abroad — or maybe your son or daughter or grandchildren do — encourage them to go. It’s going to change their lives.