Take the leap

Study abroad while in college

Morgan Kovacs, Staff Reporter

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As I approach my final year at the University of Toledo, I find myself naturally reflective of my previous three years spent here. It is with zero uncertainty that I make this statement: Studying abroad was the best decision I made at UT.

While during my first year at college I matured greatly, it was not until I studied abroad that I actually felt like a full-fledged adult. I returned to the US feeling as though I was capable of anything.

I studied in Brighton, England, the fall semester of my sophomore year, which is rather early in the college career to study abroad, but my philosophy is that if you continue to put something off, it never gets done; hence why I pressure anyone with even the slightest desire of studying abroad to fill out the paperwork ASAP.

My biggest fear about studying abroad had nothing to do with stolen passports or hellish hostels, but rather the magnitude of the cost and how it could hinder me later in life. Evidently, my worry was fruitless as studying abroad can be even cheaper than attending UT depending on the country and program you choose.

However, if you decide to choose an expensive country — like I did — UT provides travel grants and scholarships to help lessen the cost. With the help of the Center for International Studies and Programs, I still paid way less for a semester abroad than my friends paid for a college two hours away.

Another lethal misconception that deters students from studying abroad is the idea that leaving their hometown and living on a college campus constitutes “getting away.”

If you’re a student who lives hours away, while it’s great you’ve gotten out of your hometown — if that was your aim — please, I beg you not to become stagnant. The world is massive and it’s waiting.

If you decide to study abroad I have two major words of advice: 1. Go alone 2. Go without expectations.

I love my friends dearly, but I know had they tagged along on my European adventure I wouldn’t have had such an opportunity for growth. Due to complacency, I wouldn’t have ventured as far out of comfort zone and met all the amazing people I met.

Before I left for England, I conjured expectations. Almost nothing happened like I pictured, yet somehow better. Though it’s hard — studying abroad or travel in general — I find is best when gone into blind.

I could rattle on about stories from nights in Brighton, London, Amsterdam, Paris, Budapest or Dublin, but surely it’s better if you create your own. This might be the best opportunity you get to make the world your playground.

Studying abroad isn’t for everyone and I am done shoving the idea down your throat. Regardless of whether or not you decide to do it, your time at college is going to pass by quickly. Take charge of it.

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