Cultural Experience | All Experiences

Why You Should ‘Just Do It’ When it Comes to Studying Abroad

Get over your case of FOMO, You’ll gain a lot more than you miss when you study abroad

When people ask me why I chose to study abroad, a thousand different reasons usually race through my head. To explore a new place, meet new people, take classes I wouldn’t normally choose, to “find myself”, or maybe even get away from my family for a while (love you mum). Regardless of the reasons, nearly 8 months after I have arrived, I look back on my time at UNC and realize this – studying abroad – has been one of the best (if not the best) decisions I have ever made.

A year long adventure

I often have people ask me why I would go for a year. Wouldn’t I miss people? Didn’t I feel like I was missing out on things back home? What if I didn’t like it? Sure, at times I have FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) when I see my friends and family doing cool things, but I have to tell myself that what I am currently experiencing is well worth whatever I may potentially be missing at home. I also always had this gut feeling that I would love UNC and America, and that doing a year-long study abroad program would be the right choice for me.

Step into a Wonderful World of Unknowns 

Don’t get me wrong, at times it has been hard. With the 20+ hours of travelling, not knowing a soul, and being in a completely foreign place, the beginning of your study abroad period may well be the toughest. The thing is, you have no idea if you are going to like living in your town or city in the country you chose. You don’t know if it will be easy or hard to make friends; will people like you? Or will you like the people? Depending on where you go there could be a language barrier, you stress about money, your parents worry about you, and you then tend to start worrying about everything else. But please don’t let this stress you out. Because it makes you a better person.

You learn to cope with the adversity that study abroad, and life in general, can bring. You grow as a person, mature, begin to make your own choices, learn more about yourself and what you like. Because in the end this adventure that you’re going on isn’t about anyone else but yourself. Regardless of the reasons you choose to go, you will learn more about yourself in this short time than you have in the 20 or so years you have been growing up.


Long Lasting Benefits

I thoroughly believe that every student should make studying abroad a part of their higher education experience. Here’s Why:

•  Studying in a foreign country for an extended period of time will allow you to develop needed skills; it pushes you to get out of your comfort zone.

•  Enables you to experience another culture, language, environment and education system.

•  Studying abroad teaches students to appreciate difference and diversity firsthand, and it will allow you to recognize — and then dismiss — stereotypes you may previously have held about people you have never met, and places you’ve never been.

•  The many interactions that occur while studying abroad allow you to foster relationships with people, and potentially even create networks for yourself once you graduate.

I understand that sometimes there are reasons why studying abroad may be difficult, and that financial aspects are some of the most common reasons, however there are ways to overcome this. Don’t disregard the opportunity to study abroad because it may be too hard to organize, or because you think you won’t have the money for it. There are countless options available to students in regards to financial aid and scholarships; make the most of what resources your university has!

There really seems like no substitute for the way a foreign country can grow on your soul. There is something about the adrenaline rush of independence, coupled with the challenges of adjusting to a new place, language, food and culture, that leaves you feeling different to when you left. I am a firm believer that if you have the ability to go abroad, even if it is just for a few weeks in the summer, you should grasp the opportunity. No where else will you have the chance to make mistakes and get away with it, to grow up and make decisions for yourselves, learn to budget and finance, see amazing places, eat delicious food, or even just make friends you would never normally make back home.

Just do it.




Jade Smith-Love

University of Melbourne | 8 stories

Jade Smith-Love was a student at The University of Melbourne, Australia. With a double major in International Relations and Media & Communications, she was accepted to UNC-Chapel Hill for a year long study abroad program in 2014-15. Traveller, ice-cream connoisseur, avid reader, and now forever a Tar Heel.. Instagram: @jade.smithlove Twitter: @jadesmithlove

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