Cultural Experience | Europe

10 Things You’ll Learn About Yourself By Studying Abroad

The only way to find yourself, is to completely lose yourself.

1.) Communication

You’ll be thrown into a country where English isn’t the first language, so you’ll learn to communicate with locals, even if it means just using hand gestures to purchase something. No doubt you’ll embarrass yourself and you’re guaranteed to buy the wrong thing, but everything is a learning experience. This ability to communicate helps increase your patience while helping you learn a language.

2.) Confidence

One of the most amazing benefits of travel is growing and evolving as a person. Traveling alone requires a new level of confidence. Whether you’re catching a train or ordering a coffee, you’ll notice over the course of your time abroad that you stand with a stronger sense of confidence. This self-awareness make you realize how capable of achieving a goal and pushes you to test your limits. Apply for internships or positions you never thought you could see yourself doing before traveling.

3.) Open-Mindness

The most important thing you can pack is an open-mind. Take a leap of faith and try to immerse yourself into someone else’s culture. If you want to make your experiences more memorable, escape your comfort zone and travel without fear. You’ll learn that it never hurts to try something once and in the worst case scenario, you’ll have a great story out of it.



4.) Independence

Every college student has experienced a new level of freedom when they started school, moved off campus, and started work. But when you travel half way across the world, it’s a different playing field. Suddenly your normal support network has been stripped from you and now you need to learn to cope with things on your own. You’re self-awareness rises as you begin to understand budgeting and foreign currencies. This sounds scary but you begin to pick up on how to make yourself happy without others. Although this may seem scary, the power of being on your own helps you better understand yourself and your ability to create your own happiness.

5.) Appreciation for the Small Things

One of my favorite nights in Florence was not a crazy night at a club nor was it a spontanous day trip. It was simply a night of listening to live 90’s music in the basement of a local bar while singing along with my best friends. It’s easy to become immune to the small things in life when we live in a materialistic world. You’ll come to appreciate calls from friends and show gratitude for those everyday things that are easy to take for granted.

6.) Removing Outside Influences

Our life has influenced since the day we were born. Parents have pushed us to work hard, friends have swayed our decisions, and society has forced us to be normal. But normal doesn’t exist! Finding yourself is gaining a more accurate perception of the person you were before you traveled and determining if that is who you want to be when you return. You’ll find yourselfstruggling to identify yourself, but thats okay because this uncertainty is what helps you grow.

“The best day of your life is the one on which you decide your life is your own. No apologies or excuses. No one to lean on, rely on, or blame. The gift is yours – it is an amazing journey – and you alone are responsible for the quality of it. This is the day your life really begins.”- Bob Moawad



7.) Perspective

Traveling really opens your eyes and you’ll realize how much we share in common with people around the world. We share many of the same issues and gaining new perspective can offer fresh insights on how to solve these problems.

8.) Friendships

There’s something special about the friends you make abroad. They’re the type of people who don’t mind getting lost in a foreign city or dancing with you until that creepy guy leaves you alone. There is a NO ONE LEFT BEHIND policy at all times, even when you want to be alone. These are the people who have seen you on the verge of tears when you’re lost and don’t want to admit it but they’ve still managed to keep you calm. Friendship is there to lift our spirits and bring laughter back into our lives. True friends bring out the best in us and help remind us of who we are, even if we sometimes forget it ourselves.




9.) Ability to Listen

The ability to listen may be one of the most important attributes in building relationships. We tend to begin formulating our responses before someone has even finished their sentence. Slowing down to truly understand what someone is saying before jumping to the next thing can save you a lot of time. I’ve come to realize when people stop and take the time to process what I am saying, a new sense of trust is built upon that. While studying abroad you will obviously encounter language barriers, so in order to comprehend everything, you have to be patient and learn to listen to what someone is really saying.

10.) Ignites a Travel Bug Inside You

A semester might seem like a long time, but it goes by in a blink of an eye. Weekend getaways give you just a taste for what you like and don’t like in countries. You’ll already start planning for your next trip to Europe before you’ve even returned home.


Kelsie McKenna

Gonzaga University | 6 stories

Fueled by coffee, driven for adventure

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