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Embracing New Experiences and Personal Growth

This is a guest blog post from our student social media ambassador, Jaida. Currently studying abroad on the semester program, “New Activisms, Human Rights and Social Justice” that travels to Guatemala and Costa Rica. This semester the itinerary also included a visit to Chiapas, Mexico. 

[Q:] Do you have any advice for the next incoming group of study abroad students?

[A:] My primary advice for the upcoming group of students is to wholeheartedly embrace change and be prepared to navigate through moments of discomfort. While studying abroad offers wonderful experiences, there will be challenging and perhaps daunting times due to its inherent differences. Approaching this journey with the understanding that there will be both positive and challenging aspects makes it easier to navigate.

a group of 4 students walking on a path of greenery leaves class togetherIt’s crucial to acknowledge that change and the accompanying uneasy feelings shouldn’t solely be seen as negative. Instead, view them as opportunities for personal growth. Equipping yourself with the mindset of not only advancing in your career and educational goals but also fostering personal development is key.

Taking this opportunity was an unprecedented experience for me. Having never ventured beyond my home country before, I now find myself having explored four different countries and counting. Admittedly, doubts lingered throughout the entire process, and that’s perfectly normal. Such an endeavor can be intimidating, but with only three weeks left, a profound sense of pride has settled in—an indescribable feeling.

Reflecting on this journey, from leaving the familiarity of home to adapting to a new language, forging new friendships, residing with host families, and indulging in unfamiliar cuisines and activities, every step was initially uncomfortable. However, the discomfort proved to be worthwhile. To those in the next group who may be feeling scared or doubtful, it’s crucial to acknowledge those emotions and question their origins. If possible, try to confront and overcome them.

While you’re here, resist letting fear dictate your decisions. Life is too short to let a single emotion shape your entire experience. Allow yourself to feel every emotion, be present in those moments, because, sooner than you realize, those feelings will evolve, leaving you with a different perspective. My study abroad experience has transformed me; I now harbor new aspirations and plans for the future. Though initially uncomfortable, confronting and embracing these changes proved to be invaluable. I’m grateful I didn’t shy away, and I believe you’ll feel the same.