By College Tourist; Author: Ashley Ulbrich, University of Central Florida
Here are the five steps on how to become more adventurous while studying abroad.
Step One: Apply to the study abroad program.
If you have already completed the online application, you took the first step to becoming more adventurous. Applying could never hurt you; it can only benefit your curiosity with wanting to go overseas. If you are on the fence about studying abroad, just apply and receive the in depth information before making your final decision. It is better to have options rather than being closed off with no opportunities. After signing up, if you still have some concerns, ask a few other students about their study abroad experience and they will tell what I am about to tell you. Studying abroad was the best experience of my life; I was able to see the world while being under the supervision of The University of Central Florida. I knew I would be safe and had the opportunity to travel and grow as an individual. It was a six-week program with the option of staying for another six weeks to continue exploring different cities and countries.
Step Two: Don't be afraid to take risks.
Do one activity that puts you outside of your comfort zone. I would have never considered going skydiving but when I traveled to Interlaken, Switzerland I was told by the locals to skydive over the Swiss Alps. Skydiving was one of the best thrill seeking experiences Interlaken had to offer. I signed up the next morning after my friends and I arrived at our hostel. I took it upon myself not to tell anybody and just go before I chickened out- sorry mom! There was not much time to mentally prepare before getting in the plane. We had an expert skydiver attached to the back of us, which is considered a tandem dive, so we would be safe. I was calm and collected until the plane doors opened and I could see the clouds, mountains and ground below me! Now I was freaking out, but there was no going back. Just like that, the crazy little man attached to my back decided it would be funny to do a back flip outside of the plane and I was gone! I would have never done this experience before, but something inside me was just saying go for it.
Step Three: Become social with the locals.
There are many reasons for interacting with the locals. For starters, they will immerse you into their culture. The locals will tell you about the history and traditions of the city you are visiting, the most authentic restaurants to eat at, the hidden spots where only locals know about and so much more. Having interactions with locals will make you feel safe and comfortable while studying abroad. You will understand the traditions and the way people do things in their country. The United States is very different from any other country; so going out of your way to learn about other cultures will make you a more diverse, well-rounded and appreciative person.
Step Four: Go on a trip alone and see how you do.
By going on a trip alone, you really get a better understanding of who you are. Traveling alone makes you become independent, it forces you to make friends, it creates a sense of empowerment in yourself. There will be no drama and the simple logistics of traveling is all in your hands. Traveling alone allows you to be who ever you want to be with out worrying about someone else's agenda. Sure it's not as safe than traveling with a friend, but it's the most freeing feeling in the world. You can go wherever whenever with out anyone holding you back. After all, you are an adult and are going to have to be independent eventually, so why not start when you have the most freedom?! However, you have to be prepared for the ups and downs. When traveling alone, I missed my train because I was unable to communicate with the teller because of the language barrier. I had to wait at the train station for more than four hours to catch the next train. I could not blame anyone but myself for not giving myself enough time, but I learned the lesson that trains wait for nobody. I highly recommend traveling alone, facing your fears and getting to know yourself.
Step Five: Open your eyes; don't be hesitant to explore the unknown.
One of the last nights of my abroad program I decided to explore Florence, Italy with a friend of mine - who is now my boyfriend, haha. We walked up and down the streets, went over the Ponte Vecchio Bridge - dancing and laying in the streets and up the stairs to the Piazzale Michelangelo. It was about four in the morning and the only place open on the top of the hill was a little food truck. Being in Italy we obviously got a bottle of red wine to share. We decided to sit on the railing and hang our feet over the edge while having views of the Duomo and all of Florence. We stayed up until sunrise, just chatting about our trip. This was one of my favorite memories because this adventure was not planned, we were aimlessly walking looking for new places to go wanting to seek adventure.
Studying abroad can be one of the most adventurous things a college student can experience. You see the world and your perspective on life changes for the better. You become appreciative to other country's culture, traditions, history and architecture. Limiting oneself to a certain country or place is the worst thing a person could do because it creates a view on life that is not well rounded. Explore the unknown, be spontaneous and just sign up to study abroad!
Read more student travel stories at The College Tourist