“Traveling – it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller.” – Ibn Battuta
The U.C. deadline has passed and the Common App is looming. While there are many reasons students apply to private schools (smaller class size, specific major, campus location, etc.) one reason that you may have overlooked is their study abroad program. My biggest regret from my time at UCLA was not studying abroad. Honestly, I didn’t even consider spending a semester in Europe or Asia because I thought everything I needed was in the city of angels. I was an aspiring writer working at FOX studios as a production assistant (mostly reading bad scripts and making bad coffee) and thought that L.A. was already more than enough inspiration.
Now that I’m 37 and have fifteen years of teaching under my belt, I covet every vacation so that I can go out and experience something new in this vast and fascinating world. The inspiration for my writing comes from my interaction with people and traveling to a foreign place is where my best dialogue is born. Be it hanging out with musicians in a dive bar off Frenchman Street in New Orleans to see some true jazz or surviving a terrifying pedicab ride through the twisting alleys of New Delhi. No matter the place, if it’s new, it’s inspiring.
But the longest I’ve managed to visit any one place was a three week stint in Japan when I was 25. And when I came home, all I wanted was one more week. Studying abroad would have been one of the few times in my life that I would have been fully capable and encouraged to immerse myself in another culture. As an adult, responsibilities like a mortgage and family and a career prevent most of us from truly living abroad. A quick visit is all we can manage to fit in without a major life or career change.
So this month I’ve linked to some great articles and lists on the top schools for studying abroad, no matter where you may want to go or study. I didn’t always want to take advice from adults about my college choices when I was 17 but trust me when I say that opportunities like this don’t come along all that often once you enter the workforce so I hope you will at least make it a consideration as you apply to college. Good luck and bon voyage!
The 50 Best Study Abroad Programs from Best College Reviews
Best study abroad college rankings by U.S. News and World Report
45 Top Colleges to Study Abroad by Best Choice Schools
A list of programs available for studying abroad though a California Community College