Study Abroad Stories: 6 Students Share How Study Abroad Changed Their Lives

Studying abroad changes you and influences your life more than you’d expect. Being away from your familiar surrounding isn’t easy and is definitely a steep learning curve that brings about a burst in personal development and growth. 

Six graduates share their Study Abroad stories and how studying abroad has influenced their lives, whether it was in their career choice, the desire to live abroad after graduation and by giving them the strength, passion and ambition to follow their dreams. 

Also check out their Blogs and Social Media profiles and follow them there 🙂

Study Abroad Stories KelseyK

Study Abroad Stories: Kelsey K.

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From: United States

Study Abroad in: Ireland

I am a born planner. I’m a control freak. I don’t like the unknown. The Irish do not plan. They arrive late. They go with the flow.

I always thought I wanted to be a teacher, and a big part of that was because, as an education major, my future was very clear: graduate, find a teaching job, earn a respectable salary, retire. There’s not much to leave up to fate. I had control. Then I studied abroad in Ireland as a sophomore in college, and my experience studying abroad in Ireland changed the course of my life forever.The Irish aren’t big planners, and they’re some of the happiest people in the world. Experiencing the laid-back culture in Ireland taught me to be okay with not knowing. I was terrified to change my major to creative writing because it meant an unclear future. I didn’t know what my job would be out of college or even if I’d be able to find one. I didn’t know what kind of salary I’d be making or benefits I would get. It was scary. It was vulnerable. But after seeing the Irish way of life, I took the leap and changed my major, completely unsure of where I would land.

After I graduated, I went on to pursue my MFA in Creative Writing. After grad school I moved to Boston, and within days of moving into my new home, I had a job at a travel company. I planned cycling vacations for two years until a marketing position opened up. Today I write blogs for DuVine Cycling + Adventure Co. as well as my own blog, Hipstorical. I feel incredibly lucky to be writing and traveling for a living, and it’s all because of Ireland.

Study Abroad Stories Istanbul

Study Abroad Stories: Sarah J.

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From: United States

Study Abroad in: Italy, Turkey, Scotland

I studied abroad several times. In 2005, I did a summer semester in Italy with my University department. That fall, I spent a semester in Glasgow at the Glasgow School of Art. And the following summer, I did an intense summer term in Turkey, again with my department.

I studied Interior Design/Architecture, so all of my programs were focused on architecture and design – of Roman ruins, of ancient Greek cities, of modern train stations and hotels in Europe. In Italy and Turkey, I worked with teams to create something; in Glasgow, I was on my own. 

Looking back on my study abroad, I would say that it had a negative impact on my career as a designer. It might not have, but I was never able to land an internship – because I was away each summer. And as a result, when I was looking for a job after graduation, I had no contacts, no experience in an office. It left me frustrated and depressed, to be honest. I went off to grad school overseas – for something completely different – and then returned to the States, still trying to get a job in the design field. I’d been out of school for 2 years, and still had no contacts and no experience. 

When I applied for architecture grad school in 2010, I thought I had myself figured out. It turns out I didn’t. I panicked at the thought of it, deferred, went to Ireland, took my name off the waitlist, went to Alaska and Turkey, and then finally, I gave up – and began to focus more on my traveling career.” 

Study Abroad Stories South America Molly

Study Abroad Stories: Molly G. 

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From: United States

Study Abroad in: Argentina, Ecuador

I never exaggerate when I say that study abroad changed my life. My two trips abroad to South America, Ecuador and Argentina respectively, were by far the most influential experiences I had during college and they continue to have an affect on my career and my personal goals today. I had such an incredible experience that it really is my goal in life to share the gift of travel with other young people.

Before studying abroad, I was extremely undecided on a career—but I soon realized that I was meant for the field of international education, and I landed internships at both my university’s learning abroad center and at World Endeavors, a study, intern, and volunteer abroad agency in Minneapolis. I soon got a job working as an international travel consultant with a startup adventure travel company geared towards students, and I headed the planning on their first international trips to South America! 

Even more importantly though, I learned a language, made lifelong friends, discovered my true passions, saw so much of an incredible continent, and sparked a desire to travel that will never be extinguished. I found a way to combine my love of writing with my other passions while I was abroad, which is how Molly on the Road was born, and I have upcoming plans to revisit some of the amazing people and places I encountered in South America as well as explore new places. Studying abroad taught me how to travel and be a global citizen, and I have no doubt that I learned more in my seven months abroad than I did during the rest of my four years at university. 

 

Study Abroad Stories: Nikoleta M.

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Study Abroad Stories AustriaFrom: Slovakia

Study Abroad in: Austria

I have been studying abroad since I was 13 and I feel like I have developed in completely different way than I would have, staying in my homeland, Bratislava. 

You see, being in a community where everyone comes from different country inevitably influences you. I have had so many experiences that by the time I was 17, I felt, talked and acted like a 30 year-old. Sure, sometimes I was fun to be around. But I am afraid I knew too much, I understood things that were supposed to stay hidden at least for few more years. Education is great, but as Ariel Dorfman would put it: “excess of truth can kill”. So I had to learn how to become a child again, how to become ordinary and forget about some of the awful things that are out in the world. That made me ignorant. I stopped caring about feelings of my peers and friends and soon lost some of them. You see, it’s all about balance. 

Through going to an international school abroad, I most definitely became another person. And now, that I actually found the balance, I think that studying abroad was one of the greatest gifts I could have ever been given. The key is balance. Whatever you do

Study Abroad Joe Baur

Study Abroad Stories: Joe B.

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From: United States 

Study Abroad: India, Costa Rica

Studying abroad in India taught me to see the world with a bit more nuance. I feel like many U.S. Americans are raised with this  “we’re the world’s superpower and awesome and the best and that’s it” mentality. So, traveling to India broadened my horizons simply by being in a foreign country and interacting with different people. I’d say it made me a more independent, curious person, as well.

Costa Rica, on the other hand, forced me to improve my Spanish, which was one of the reasons for moving down there in the first place. It ultimately taught me the importance of language learning, so not only do I have conversational Spanish down, but now I make an attempt to learn as much of a foreign language as possible before traveling to a new country — even if it’s just basic pleasantries.

India gave me the travel bug and made me interested in telling stories that crossed national borders. Costa Rica solidified my interest in telling stories that people aren’t already talking about, especially from places people think are inherently too dangerous to visit. 

Study Abroad Stories: Menorca C.

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From: India

Study Abroad in: Germany

For as long as I can remember, right back to my early teen years, going abroad and carrying out research in life sciences had always been on my mind. The fact that I had family and a lot of acquaintances in USA made it a seemingly natural choice for me. I wasn’t encouraged to go abroad for my Bachelor studies, and so was determined to make it for my Master degree. 

Study Abroad in Germany

However, after years of preparation, exams and lots of detailed applications, I could not secure any financial aid in the US. Luckily, I had also decided to apply for a few European universities towards the end of my Bachelor degree, and I was extremely glad to be accepted in a German university with a full scholarship. It’s been 4 years since that happened, and I have said this a hundred times perhaps, though will say it again, studying in Germany was one of the best decisions I could have taken and am so very happy with how everything turned out to be! It was one of those things that wasn’t very planned, but moving to this country gave me numerous opportunities to learn a lot, work at some of the best institutes in my field, explore a new culture, make friends and travel. 

One of the most important experiences for me though, was understanding myself better: my passions, interests, capabilities and what I would really enjoy doing further on. I feel that before moving abroad, I was aware of only limited options and possibilities in my field of work. I knew what I was interested in and other things that I was passionate about. However, after moving around and working at different places, living in different cities, I discovered that there was so much more that I could do! People are involved in so many different types of work and projects, and it would be possible for me to combine my passion and profession too! And so I began my journey of getting to know myself better and exploring my potential. I’ve had the opportunity to try out several new things, get to know many people, understand different cultures, learn to adjust better and be more aware of my surroundings. I won’t say that I am there yet, but everyday is a learning experience for sure. 

 

What is your Study Abroad Story?

Do you have Study Abroad Stories you want to share? How did studying abroad change you and what influence did it have on your life?

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Study Abroad Stories: How Study Abroad Changes your life

 

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