Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Why Studying Abroad Will Be the Best Decision You'll Make During your College Career

I've been fortunate enough to have two different study abroad experiences while at St. Mike's, and they both have contributed immensely to my education.

My first study abroad experience was a St. Mike's study trip to Burgundy, France in May before my junior year. This was a trip led by two St. Mike's professors, with 15 St. Mike's students, for 3 weeks.  We traveled together and took an intensive, 4-credit art history class in the historic village of Pontigny in France. Our weeks consisted of a schedule alternating between one day of classroom lectures and the next day of excursions to nearby museums, monuments, and sites that directly related to the prior day's lecture.  This style of learning was unlike any other I've had by it's truly experiential nature.

My second, and most recent study abroad experience was the more traditional study abroad experience.  I studied at a university in South Africa for an entire semester through the third party provider, AIFS.  Unlike my experience in France, I did not travel with any St. Mike's professors (although coincidentally one other girl from St. Mike's) and had lots of independence. I was able to travel on the weekends and meet so many amazing people from other parts of the U.S. and around the world.

If you are able to make it work with your class schedule over the years, here are some of my favorite reasons why it will be the best semester of your life:

1. You'll be pushed outside of your comfort zone.  During my time studying in France, our two St. Mike's professors traveling with us decided on a zero-electronics (minus cameras) policy during our 3 week trip. This was tough at first, but we all got very into taking pictures and photography and our relationships were so much stronger with each other because of it.

Paragliding over Cape Town, South Africa

World's highest bungee jump from a bridge, Bloukran's Bridge Bungee

2. You'll learn new things. 
Learning (kind of) to surf was one of my favorite parts of South Africa

3. The food. Nothing else to say here, foreign food is amazing!!

'Za with a view in Stellenbosch, South Africa
South African brunch

French macarons!

French cuisine, including escargot- snails!

The French love their cheese (duh)

4. The locals.

The wonderful and beautiful kids I taught at Ikaya Primary School in Kaya Mandi, South Africa

5. It will be a semester full of exploring. 

Wally's Cave, Lion's Head, South Africa
Small town in Burgundy, France

Blyde River Canyon, South Africa

6. You'll make lifelong friends.

Friends who wine tour together stay together

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