Last week over a hundred influential travel bloggers and digital media experts were invited to the White House in Washington D.C in order to participate to a summit on study abroad and global citizenship. #WHTravelBloggers became a trending topic worldwide!
So what was the main purpose of this summit you may ask?
The U.S government took advantage of this opportunity to discuss ideas and implement strategies that will encourage students to study, volunteer and gain valuable work experience abroad. Not only do I think it is great that the political leaders realize how important it is for future generations to develop important skills which will help them stand out from the crowd and prepare them for the real world. It will also allow them to deal with constant changes, be more open to different customs, cultures and develop or build strong international relationships.
Have I ever told you about my own experience? After coming back from one of the best trips of my life, that is traveling around Europe for a few months,
Locations: Amsterdam, Barcelona, Bologna, Frankfurt, Burano, Interlaken, Zurich, London and Paris.
I came back home and accepted a teaching position at an international school in Canada’s capital, Ottawa where I taught English, French as a Second Language to foreign students as well as government employees! It was right after graduation from the university and it was my first real position in the work space.
Quite frankly I now truly believe that everything happens for a reason. I saved diligently while doing my internship at the government and went to the old continent. Every single experience, encounter and misadventures were true blessings and it was helping me become a better person.
Teaching to young students from South America: Venezuela, Colombia, Brazil, Europe: France, Germany, Turkey, Italy, Asia: China, South Korea, Japan was definitely amazing! Getting to know them every day and teaching them the language helped me appreciate more their own country, culture, customs, food! In return I made sure they learned all they could and during our day trips they got a glimpse of how incredible our country really is.
As I look in retrospect, I can say that all the time and effort well worth it! Then an unexpected opportunity, a blessing in disguise came knocking at my door….
From a teacher to a student: My own Study Abroad story
I had been teaching at the language school for a few months when one day I went into a cultural institute and asked if there were any scholarships available for a polyglot like me. The registrar was super kind and looked at the opportunities on my behalf. I left her my contact information, my résumé and forgot about it.
Then one day, out of the blue, I went to open my mailbox and found a letter which had a nice little stamp from an European country. I opened it with excitement and anticipation and it said something like this:
“Congratulations Miss Karla, welcome to our institution.
You have been accepted and granted a full-tuition scholarship in ITALY!”
Can you just imagine what I did upon reading that? I let out a scream and started jumping up and down with joy and amazement! Wow! That was unbelievable. Dreams really do come true. No need to say that I was flipping out and started preparing to live one of the best months EVER!
Even though I had won a scholarship, I still had to pay for my airfare and living expenses. So I worked extra hours and did whatever it took to cross the pond!
First, I landed in my beloved Rome.
where I spent a week before classes were due to start and fell madly in love with Trastevere, a super cool area in the eternal city.
Then I traveled like a local and made my way to the small, yet charming little town of Castelraimondo, tucked in the green hills of Le Marche province near the Adriatic Sea.
The school director was waiting for me and fellow student at the train station with a warm smile and open arms! Italian hospitality at its best! She drove us to the school and we were pleasantly surprised to find out that out that the school was located within our apartment building! Very convenient 🙂
We had a welcome party, met the other students from around the world (Thailand, Indonesia, India, Argentina, Greece, Finland etc) and the wonderful teachers!
Besides learning Italian from early morning to mid afternoon, we were exposed to various aspects of the culture through movies, music, FOOD and the best part (you know that I am restless and can’t stay still for long right?) were all the field trips every week-end! That was just music to my ears and soothing for my traveler soul.
We traveled around the area (San Severino Marche, Fabriano, Ancona) and beyond! We visited several cities such as Venice, Florence, Assisi, Gubbio in Umbria, visited the small republic of San Marino, went to coastal towns and up to the mountains. It really was a well-rounded program which made us truly enjoy our time there.
As I have a natural knack for languages, it was very easy for me and by the second week I was almost fluent and talking like a native! That’s the best sign that you are doing what you love and love what you do right?
Now time flew by and before long, we were preparing for final exams and graduation! I had to leave earlier since I had plans and someone to see in Zürich, Switzerland, so I wrote the test and got my well-earned diploma.
I couldn’t have asked for a better teacher and excellent classmates. They were all unique and special and we sure did bond. I am still friends with a few of them. Time nor distance have any effect or can’t affect our friendship!
Again the super nice director offered to take me to the train station to catch my train and on the way there I didn’t help but shed tears, even she did. She stood on the platform until I was seated on board and waved good-bye! Now who does that these days?
I may sound like a broken record again but this truly was a life changing, life improving, unforgettable experience that I was meant to live. I simply bow in gratitude to the universe for having been incredibly good to me and for having allowed me to learn, grow and inspire others in the process. This is why I want to share with you
5 great reasons why you should study abroad
1- Travel will transform you
Your life will never be the same after you make that important decision, take a risk (that is well worth it) and you open your spirit, mind and soul.
2- You will build friendships that will last a lifetime
Everyone you meet on your path of life has a specific reason. Although it does not seem obvious at first, learn from them and listen. They will help you grow and become stronger, a better version of you!
3- Studying in a different country will teach you to accept differences
You may be in for a real shock when you go to a new country and you may be left puzzle after observing some of the things the locals do which may not seem normal back home.
An extra dose of patience will be required at times but remember to accept those differences and be at peace with it. We all have very ways of thinking, living, celebrating. Just go with the flow! As the saying goes:
“Keep calm and Carry On!”
4- Learning a new language will help you stand out when you apply for a position
Speaking more than one language is a must nowadays; two and more will really set you apart from the rest! In an ever-growing global economy, it is important that you have an advantage over others.
Work locally, think globally I say. In this day and age of immediate information and connectivity, communicating in a different language will improve your chances of a promotion and who knows, maybe it will allow you to be sent to another city or country 🙂
5- Studying abroad is the best investment you will ever make
I know that the costs may be intimidating and that stops several people from making their dreams come true but do not let this stop you! You probably have heard or seen this but…
(and smarter too)
The best investment you can ever make is in yourself. Never stop learning. Do what is necessary in order to make it a reality. Start small and once you have gotten used to it and reserve some funds, go and explore the world!
Now over to you. I want to know something,
Have you ever studied abroad? Where was it?
If you haven’t, would you like to?
Let us know how your experience was. I really can’t wait to read all about it (feel free to include your juicy stories or funny tales.
Until next time. Many happy travels!
Tashi delek, all the best,