I have one piece of advise I give to students who ask me about my study abroad experience. Go somewhere crazy! I mean it, if you are going to give up your wonderful life in Athens for a year, a semester, a summer, do it for something that is going to change your life forever. I do not discount people who study abroad in traditional destinations in Europe or Central America, their experiences can be equally as beneficial. However, for someone who really wants to learn about themselves and a new culture, try something radically different. Volunteer in Africa, intern in Shanghai, take an intensive language semester in Northern Brazil, go trekking in the Himalayas, or study in Jordan. I am so happy that I choose to study in places I never would have had the chance to go for an extended period of time. I will admit at times I was stretched thin and I got tired of the daily wind and grind of intercultural communication and different weather patterns, food, and lifestyles. But I have never had as rewarding of a year as the one I spent abroad because I learned so much about myself and about how I wanted to spend my life.
Your level of “somewhere crazy” may be different then mine. Just make sure your study abroad experience is uniquely your own and that you dare yourself. That is what college and study abroad are all about!
Claire Bens is a senior, double major in Political Science and Global Studies Peace and War Studies with a minor in Spanish Language. She is also a peer adviser at the Office of Education Abroad. Follow her at @clairesbens.