International Education could easily be defined as education that occurs internationally; but it carries with it so much more than that. College students are bogged down with the word “education” everywhere they go – and honestly, it doesn’t sound very appealing. Mostly, the word “education” carries expectations, stress and a lot of times, debt.
For me, my “international education” was actually an “international experience.” I believe wholeheartedly that when students go abroad to study (whether that be an American student going abroad, or an international student coming to the US), they gain a different type of experience along with their educational classes. The classes and credit hours are only a small (but still significant) portion of what a student will learn when they travel.
An international experience is about learning a culture. It’s about learning what that culture represents and getting to know the people behind it. It’s about speaking the language (or at least trying to) even if you’re not extremely confident. It’s also about being humble and being accepting of a different culture – and sometimes even embracing it and loving it by the time you leave. It’s also about realizing that you can leave your heart in different places of the world and fall in love with somewhere that’s thousands of miles from home.
Even though the experience will eventually end, international education doesn’t end there. When a student returns from any study abroad, no matter the length or location, it’s then their duty to share their changed perspectives with their peers and colleagues. If not for international experiences and encounters, our world – and especially the Untitled States) would have remained stagnant for generations. Learning is about being able to open the eyes of others with your stories of relationships, new food, new interactions and an overall changed outlook.
Erin Golden is a senior Strategic Communication major who studied abroad in Spain and Southeast Asia. Erin is also a Peer Adviser at the Office of Education Abroad. Visit her during walk-in advising hours every M-F from 1-4pm or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.