My study abroad experience has taught me a lot of valuable lessons , but these three seem the most important. The first lesson I learned while abroad was to be grateful in all circumstances. There were a few weeks near the beginning of my semester abroad during which I had limited financial means, which resulted in having to ration my food until I could buy food again. During this time, I ate things I usually wouldn’t, such as buttered noodles. This made me realize that I had been picky and ungrateful to some degree at home, making my family accommodate, for example, my apathetic attitude towards pizza. Living on rations of butter noodles made me realize that pizza sounded great. After this experience, I intend to be more thankful and accept whatever I am given.
The second lesson being abroad has taught me is that being so far away from my friends and family is really tough. Although I am enjoying my exploring Japanese culture and learning a lot, I miss home much more than I anticipated. However, thankfully I have been able to communicate with them regularly, which has been a blessing.
The third lesson that studying abroad has taught me is that I need to live in the moment. I have the tendency to want to plan ahead and worry about future problems too much. This causes me to become stressed and overwhelmed, so I must try to take one day at a time, dealing with each day’s challenges as they come. Also, spur of the moment plans are sometimes the ones that are the most fun, so I need to allow myself to participate in them once in a while without worrying about future finances as heavily. I may only get to be here in Japan once, so I need to let myself go out and experience everything I can before I return home.
UMass Dartmouth students should consider studying abroad because it is an adventure through which you learn more about the world and yourself. By attending a university abroad, you will learn about the culture of the country both in class and outside of class. You may even befriend some people of other backgrounds, which will give you more opportunities to see the world from a different perspective. Furthermore, if you are able to stay connected, this friendship could last a lifetime. Attending school events, festivals, trying new foods and learning about your classmates are all valuable and culturally informative experiences unique to studying abroad. These experiences and observations can also help you reflect on our culture, as compared with that of the country you visit.
In regards to personal growth, living abroad especially alone makes you more independent. In my case, I live by myself and cook my own meals most of the time. I must go grocery shopping and figure out how to get wherever I want to go, or tag along with someone. This is my first time providing for myself completely, without a meal plan or family members helping out. As a result, I have become more independent. However, being so independent has made me more thankful for my family members back home who have provided for me in the past and been there to support me every step of the way.