Five reasons studying abroad is the best decision I’ve ever made…

Hey again Glasgow!

So this month instead of telling you about all the cool places I’ve been and what I’ve been up to since my last post I thought I’d do something actually useful and tell you why you should all be seriously considering studying abroad. This time last year I was either overwhelmingly excited or completely terrified about my decision to study abroad and with the stress of the exam period and the application deadline it would have been easy not to bother. Now that I’m here though (and I guess I always really knew this would happen) I’ve realised that choosing to study abroad is literally the best decision I’ve ever made.

To be perfectly honest, I’m not sure that I can possibly convey to you how glad I am that I’m here. However, given that this is an informative blog I guess I should probably try. So here are “Five reasons studying abroad is the best decision I’ve ever made…”

1. It’s like Freshers all over again, but better. No seriously. The majority of exchange students you meet while abroad are exactly the same as you- they know absolutely no one, also had the guts to travel halfway across the world in search of some sort of adventure and are keen to make new friends- in terms of the global population you already have more in common with these people than most others! Much like starting at Glasgow, it’s incredible how quickly I’ve gotten to know everyone here. The way UConn sets up orientation means that all of the exchanges are super close and always together. I can’t believe that it’s only been two months since I met and got to know them but now I really don’t know how I will cope without them…

I ❤ my exchange fam, you need one too.

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The exchange girls in Vermont.

2. You learn to live your life to the fullest. Okay, this one’s very cliché but valid. Within two months of being on exchange I’ve been to New York, driven to Canada, gone camping in Rhode Island, gone to the filming of Jerry Springer (…?) and spent an amazing weekend with a hot tub and sauna in Vermont. You literally do something every single weekend. Compare this to Scotland, a place I’ve lived for twenty years- I have this huge bucket list of planned adventures but I always manage to find an excuse to put them off. Knowing that your time is limited and being surrounded by like minded people encourages you to really take advantage of where you are. It’s one of the qualities that I’m most keen to bring home at the end of the year.

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The Montreal skyline.

3. Blah blah blah ‘comfort zones– the application buzz word. To be fair though, being on the other side of the world with a whole bunch of new people, experiencing a completely different culture with a totally unfamiliar support network is pretty much the definition of being out of your comfort zone, but that’s the point. Being here I’ve learned to form a new safety net and to look after myself- which in terms of self-development is pretty cool. Study abroad is the perfect balance between independence and peer support; you’re independent but you’re never isolated.

4. Work hard play hard becomes a way of life! I won’t lie to you, studying abroad will be the toughest balancing act you’ve ever attempted. You want to experience absolutely everything because you’re only here for a limited time but you also have to think about your grades. Exchange students all seem to have different theories on this one. Some have no pressure to do particularly well with their grades or have taken easier courses so they can always be socialising whilst others are completely throwing themselves into the academic experience that study abroad holds. Currently I’m trying to do both and it’s working fine, but it is without a doubt the hardest study experience I’ve had thus far. Saying that, the ‘plan’ is that I can take this work ethic back to Glasgow and be all set to smash fourth year, which would be ideal (we’ll see how that plays out next year…)

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Working hard, playing hard…

5. Culture is super cool. I’ve always been a strong believer in the view that the only way to really see a country is to stay there for an extended period of time and I stand by that view. One thing I didn’t bank on though is how much you can pick up about other cultures by simply spending time with people, even outside of their home countries (i.e ‘Yes we actually wear kilts to weddings and yes, we actually eat haggis…’). The exchanges are from literally all over the world and it is so so interesting to see the different expectations and norms people have brought with them from home. Another thing I didn’t expect is how different American culture would be from the UK. I am constantly amazed by the different attitudes people have towards things here, from sports and competitions to college life and (maybe more obviously) drinking, the entire country is almost inconceivably different but it’s just another thing that’s making this a really crazy and completely unforgettable year!

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Our first ‘football’ match.

I could go on for hours here, but I feel five is a reasonable place to stop. I guess what I’m trying to say is that studying abroad is a really special experience. It is scary, but I promise you, you won’t regret it. I’m surrounded by great people who are going through the same as I am, I’m never lonely or bored and am literally waking up everyday and having the time of my life. Please please think about studying abroad, and failing that, just book a flight and come see me in UConn!

Till next time!

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