Ever since I decided to study abroad for an entire year, I’ve been asked the same question of why?
If you know me, you probably know that I can be a pretty indecisive person. Little or big decisions alike can be difficult for me. For example the simplest of decisions like “should I buy this?” can stall my day, or big decisions like “do I drop this class?” will consume my thoughts and mind for weeks or months at a time. I’m not proud of it but sometimes I just can’t help it. When I was younger I was a very quick decision maker. I was confident in knowing exaclty what I wanted, however somewhere down the road I formed the habit of hesitation and indecisiveness. It’s because I can easily overthink situations which leads to anxiety and stress. I bring it upon myself and overcomplicate the matter. From deciding on a high school, to a college, to sorority life, and even where to study abroad, for a long time indeciveness has overpowered me creating a barrier over solving anything rationally. That is until just recently, where even I surprised myself.
I’m proud to say I’ve never made a big decision easier than deciding to study abroad another semester. I was 100% confident in my reasoning and stood behind my choice strongly. I knew it was what I wanted and I followed my heart.
To me the stars had aligned just right, and even though I felt there was no wrong decision, this was the right one. When God is guiding me down a certain path, there’s no turning back around even if I feel afraid and want to. I’ve experienced this before and have learned that God knows what’s best for me in the long term. If it wasn’t in God’s plan for me, then barriers would have arose showing me differently. Precisely the exact opposite occured because what I had deemed unfeasible all semester, transformed into being a possibility and then a reality. I never let the idea of staying another semester cross my mind because I knew I didn’t have the money or would graduate on time. Turns out I was wrong and with diligence and fervent emailing I made it all work out in just a few days. Everything fell in place so smoothly that the answer presented itself quite clearly.
One of the biggest gifts study abroad has given me so far is to simply enjoy life. It sounds cliche and straightforward but it means so much more to me than that. I have changed from being a stressed, worrisome, and frugal person to being carefree, content, and fulfilled in mind, body, and soul. I began the semester with the attitude that I had to accomplish tasks meticulously on a list, to workout every day to remain in shape, and to carefully conserve my money. It was after a month of traveling the world that my ideals gradually switched to just calm down, relax, and appreciate every moment. I began to go with the flow and let things happen the way that they happened. I stopped my consistent workouts and learned to love taking my time, walking, and resting. I finally got over the guilt I would feel after every purchase I made and learned to give myself the things I wanted while feeling good and satisfied about it. Study abroad has taught me to live in the present, helped me to understand “joie de vivre” or the joy of living, and overall has changed me as a person. I owe it all to God, my experiences, friends, and other contributing factors.
In addition to the easy decision and how study abroad has changed me for life, I have many other reasons why I am staying another semester.
First, I couldn’t bear the idea of leaving a place and lifetsyle I loved so much. The last few weeks before the end of the semester I was in denial and was depressed about leaving. This is definitely typical among study abroad students but I realized Grenoble had become my home.
Second, Staying in France for a whole year is a wonderful opportunity. It would give me another semester to practice my French and become more comfortable with the language. This fall I had improved, but I traveled so much that I couldn’t focus on my language learning. I want to devote more of my time to this prospect.
Third, staying abroad a full year makes sense in regards to my major of International Business. I’m at a top business school in Europe where I interact with students and professors from around the world. I am learning and applying life skills in an international context among faculty with an enormous amount of global experience. Classes that teach me about real world issues and how to conduct business despite cultural barriers is unique to my school.
Fourth, one year abroad looks even better on a resume in my field. If I want to show I have an international background with experience, then this will certainly help me. Plus I could network and form connections toward future internships or jobs. I will obtain a DIB or Diploma in International Business from my school by the end of the year.
Fifth, my scholarships at my home university entirely translate into my school and program tuition fees abroad. I will never have the chance again to be abroad through study or leisure without racking up enormous loans and I want to take advantage of this. I am so lucky to be able to financially afford this experience and don’t mind having to take out a small loan for the spring semester.
Sixth, I have more time to accomplish more things that I ran out of time for. I would love the chance to start a job working as a nanny or a tutor for a French family who want their children to learn English. There are other places I want to travel to. I also want to go on more adventures and hikes around Grenoble plus take advantage of skiing and other outdoor sports in their prime winter season. Furthermore I want to continue my relationships with friends, make new ones, and overall continue living life in the best way I’ve known yet.
Once I realized I would graduate on time, more of my classes would transfer over, I’d have a place to live, I had the necessary funds, and I got all the approvals from the necessary people and institutions, I knew the possibility was looking bright. I had always considered and thought about how studying abroad for a whole year would be such an amazing experience. To some it’s portayed as being way too long, too much of a commitment, and too long away from your home university. But to me it always seemed like a dream come true, an incredible opportunity, and a chance of a lifetime. I’d already adapted to being away from home a long time and knew it would be right up my alley. I can’t believe I am really doing it. But at the same time it seems natural and what I was supposed to do all along. Big decisions like this used to scare me, take over my mind, and throw me into a whirlwind of confusion. I finally feel like I have overcome this barrier or at least taken one huge step in the right direction. Of course the decision still involved a pro and con list, a lot of thinking and analyzing, and time consumption, but all in a rational, structured, and non-stressful way. There was a lot to factor in and consider but all the benefits outweighed the negatives. My biggest worry despite logistics was how badly I’d miss my friends at my home university. There are so many people I care about and I thought about each one of them during my decision process. However, in the end I had to form a decision that was best for me and that fitted my needs and wants as priority. It’s so important to make a decision yourself because it’s you who has to deal with it and any consequences that might come with it. I have great satisfaction in knowing that I hold the key to my future and happiness and for me, and me only, that is studying abroad in Grenoble, France for a year.