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Tuesday
04/11/17

Beyond my Backyard

Posted by caaponte on April 11, 2017 in Going Abroad, Junior Year, Reflection

According to recent studies, 33 percent of students surveyed reported feeling so depressed that they had trouble going about their daily routine. 33 percent. For those 6 million of American college students, that means a daily internal struggle with the already existing demands of university life.

Did I pick the right major?

Am I smart enough for this?

And where is this light at the end of the tunnel everyone keeps talking about?

After months of reflection, I learned that help could be found outside of your comfort zone. Where may that be? Not in your backyard, but abroad.

 

The overwhelming anxiety college students experience can be paralyzing and lead them to deficits in their academic and personal lives. After struggling with depression, anxiety, and the confusion that coincides with finding your sense of self, I want to emphasize the impact travel has on the journey of self-discovery.

  • Excitement: Instead of approaching these changes with unease and angst, travelers are open and willing to accept things that deviate from their standard routine. Your adventures are new, fun and exciting, and leave students feeling eager to tackle the obstacles that life brings.
  • Expansion: Traveling allows the mind to expand and see the world from a completely different angle. When we become accustomed to a certain way of living, our minds tend become closed off to many of life’s possibilities. And think about the muscle memory involved – Your brain gets stronger and faster when you’re speaking another language.
  • Flexibility: No matter how rigid a plan may be, life always has an edge of unpredictability. For travelers, this means they need to allow a large margin for sudden changes in their schedule.
  • Perspective: We all tend to imagine that our problems are most important. That is, until we see first hand the sufferings of others. When we see others copeing with similar or worse situations, we gain insight that our problems are not as daunting as we had originally perceived. Because traveling helps put life into perspective, it also has the beneficial byproduct of decreasing the anxiety, stress, and depression involved in changes of everyday life.
  • Teamwork: Traveling with another person, or even a group, builds team synergy and brings everyone closer together by sharing new experiences simultaneously.

Bringing what I learned back to the university setting, I felt empowered to continue learning. Not just in the classroom, but also about myself. 96% of study abroad alumni, including myself, attribute the increase in self-confidence to their experience outside of their comfort zone. Going abroad was my breath of fresh air and reconnected me to who I am today and who I hope to be ten years from now.

The sky is the limit for the life of a college student. But each student needs their own push to look outside of the box and explore outside of their comfort zone.

So, tell me. Where to next?

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