Image by petra quilitz via Flickr
You’ve heard of other students taking them, but you might wonder what exactly is involved in a study abroad program. Imagine being plucked out of your college town, and dropped into a foreign environment to learn. Sounds pretty abrupt, and awkward, right? That’s true. But setting up your study abroad program in itself gives you time to learn the ins and outs of the country that you’ll be living in. You’ll learn plenty about the place before you even step foot on a plane to get there. And, if you’re remotely curious, you’ll scour books, travelogues, tv travel programs, and the Internet for even more information before you depart. All of which will give you a decent backstory for the tale you’ll live over the coming months.
But no matter how much you prepare by learning about the food, culture, and study abroad classroom programs in the country you are about to reside in, you’ll still be pleasantly surprised once you arrive. That’s because no amount of study can prepare you for the subtle cultural realities that exist when you transplant to a new area. Things that you never expected start to happen almost immediately.
For example, you might be enthralled by the language and dialect of your chosen country. But you might not have prepared for the fact that the locals will be fascinated by your own accent and appearance. Your propensity towards mustard might be viewed as fascinating, or appalling. You might become something of a minor celebrity, because so many people will say they’ve never met someone from your country in person before. Studying abroad brings new learning experiences to many people!