Are You Ready to Grow?: Study Abroad for Teens
Have you ever been out of the U.S.? If so, do you suffer from Big Mac Withdrawal Syndrome? Or do you leap into sampling all the local fare, whether it's sheep's eyeballs or mare's milk? Have you ever thought about living with remote tribes in New Guinea? Traveling the Silk Road through Uzbekistan? Canoeing down the Amazon?
If you've never thought about exploring other countries, take some time to dream. You may surprise yourself.
No matter what level of adventure you're ready for, consider adding an international experience to your undergraduate or graduate education. It will give you a better understanding of yourself and your own culture. Whatever you decide to do after graduation, getting out in the world and seeing it for yourself now will increase your choices and opportunities.
Learning to communicate and interact in other languages and studying in other countries will give you insights into how people from different cultures view the world. It might also lead to exciting career opportunities that you never dreamt about. Everyone has a unique contribution to make in the world; what will yours be? Consider these possibilities:
- Perhaps you're interested in banking; but instead of working on Wall Street, how about helping Nepalese hill tribe women start their own small business with micro finance loans?
- Or perhaps you're interested in law, but instead of joining a corporate law firm, you could join the Global Justice Center in Rio de Janeiro, which documents human rights violations.
- Or perhaps you want to work for a multinational, but why not work in emerging markets such as the countries of the former Soviet Union?
Is study outside the U.S. for you?
Traveling outside your home turf is not for everyone. The people who do it best tend to be curious about their neighbors on the planet: how they live and by what laws, traditions and norms; what they eat; how they raise their children or treat their old and sick; and most importantly, how they deal with conflict -- whether by force, peer pressure, palaver or negotiation.
Those who travel best tend to be flexible, adaptable, unafraid of making mistakes, and resilient. They recognize that there are multiple ways to be successful in life, not just the ways they know best. They are willing to put aside the attitudes they take for granted and gain understanding of how other peoples live their lives. If you are not curious about the world, and like a regular schedule, stay at home! But if you like to test yourself, look for new frontiers and expand your perspective, pack light and explore the world. Down the road you could end up working for the United Nations in Kosovo or East Timor, for the State Department in Africa, or for Citibank in Asia.
Whether you'll eventually work in the U.S. or overseas, the self-knowledge and cultural information learned firsthand from international travel is irreplaceable. You can make a difference in the world, and the more you know about it, the bigger the difference you will make.
4 More Items You Might be Interested In:
Even though there’s a lot of work to do when you’re studying overseas, you’ll regret it if you don’t take advantage of every waking moment to explore your surroundings. Meet a great role model, who flexed her Wings over China.
Caught up in Macedonia’s age-old conflict, Maren Curtis made the conscious choice to bring her ethnically-varied friends together, and to fully engage with an unstable country. The rewards were enormous.
When you become a living link between the U.S. and another country, it’s good for everybody. Keep an open mind and leave room for new ideas!
Jennifer Archibeque was ready for the challenge of visiting Colombia, where she could learn Spanish better than she could in any classroom at home.
Reprinted with the permission of the Office of Distinguished Scholarships.
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