College is a place of many opportunities. You have opportunities open to you that you may never have again like high adventure sports, internships, free classes in multiple fields, professional level equipment for student use, and if you're exceptionally lucky, study abroad.
Studying abroad is a remarkable idea first pioneered at Indiana University in the 1870s as a summer trip program to places like Switzerland, Germany, France, or Italy. As the 1920s began swinging and roaring, more and more universities picked up on the trend of sending students to foreign countries, at least for a time.
Nowadays many accredited institutes from across the globe have study abroad and exchange programs to facilitate cultural exchange.
Studying abroad has many benefits for universities and students. For the universities, it can increase the prestige of the institute and allow for more connection to professionals in other countries. International influence and recognition may also be achieved with these programs facilitating better interaction between universities in research. These can also pull in more international students as names of foreign universities become more common.
For the students, international programs are important components of education, allowing students to experience different cultures and perspectives that they would otherwise not encounter or only encounter passively. They can allow students access to research opportunities not available in their country and let them expand their knowledge of a given field by meeting experts from different countries. All in all, it's a win-win scenario.
Out in the wide, wide world, students will meet lots of different people of all kinds, but in general, students travelling abroad will encounter certain types of people.
1. The Panhandler. This type is frequently warned about by previous travelers and guides alike. These folks will prey upon foreigners in particular, hoping to snatch up cash.
These people are frequently committing fraud, although this is not all of them. They may try to sell goods, tours, or special access. Do not fall for these. Stick with your host family and don't fall prey to panhandlers.
2. Impatient Native. You're going to make some people angry in your host country no matter what you do. There are just some people who will refuse to sympathize with travelers and foreigners. They may hate foreigners, their ignorance, or some behaviors they do.
Whatever the case, you're going to have to deal with these people. Just be polite and try your best with the language.
3. Helpful Stranger. You will be lost at some point in your travels. Let's face it. No matter how good your map is, if you're in a foreign city, you just don't know the lay of the land.
Whatever the situation though, be it being lost in a city, unable to understand a transaction, or just stumbling with the language, someone will take pity on your poor self and help you out. Whatever happens, please thank them as best you can and remember to accept the offered help.
4. Tour Guide. This special breed may not necessarily be paid to take people around cities to see famous places. They will simply be a native with good knowledge of the area you're staying in. This person will be invaluable to you as you try to go about daily life and school in another country.
They may show you where the best restaurants are, where to go shopping, when is best to get work done. Your unofficial tour guide will also probably have a better understanding of the nooks and crannies of the city so pay attention to them.
5. Fellow Foreigner. This woman or man is probably going to be just as confused as you are with this place they're in. They may speak the same language as you if you're lucky, but they might even speak an entirely separate one, one that you may not know.
Your mutual stumbling through the local language will help you help each other learn and grow in a mutually confusing and difficult time. This may turn out to be your closest friend amongst the ones you make overseas.
6. Surrogate Mom. This mother-figure will be helpful beyond compare with your day-to-day life. Taking on the figure of your mother while your real one worries from afar, this woman will help you figure out who will help you and who will hurt you here.
She will probably also ensure you never go hungry. Remember her and send her gifts back when you get home.
7. Tourists. They're everywhere. You can't escape them. They travel in herds of 5-50 and are constantly trying to take pictures of everything.
Use caution when approaching them as they may ask you to take a picture of them all, but remember to be courteous, because you were once as wide-eyed as them
8. Helpful Professors. Professors are an integral part of study abroad as you will be learning from them while you're there. So you might as well get to know them. Just like getting chummy with a professor back home will help you do well in class, it will doubly help if the professor can speak your native language. Even if they can't, letting them know that you may need help is an important step.
9. Family. Okay so technically you're not meeting them, but you're going to need to keep in touch with your family and friends somehow while you're out of the country. Remember to keep up with them, but don't become chained to home. Let loose the anchor and sail free for a bit.
10. New Friends. Travel abroad is an excellent opportunity to grow and learn and make new friends. The people will be great company, great help, and great people. Make sure to keep them close even when you head back home.
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