Ever since I moved into Bergstrom Hall a few months ago I’ve been hearing that you’re the lady to email if I seek answers for any and all of the crazy questions rattling around in my brain. I also heard that your life is full of adventure and entertainment from all corners of the globe. Some say that you’ve visited over 30 different countries! I didn’t ever think I would, but I’ve considered studying abroad a lot lately. The only problem is that I’m not sure if it’s the right thing for me. I grew up in a small Wisconsin town and I’ve always said that getting away from it all would be a dream come true, but I think there’s inevitably plenty of things I would miss. My parents, my boyfriend, and especially my cat Shelby. And yet, my heart has this deeply rooted urge to climb a mountain in Central America or photograph the beautiful architecture in Rome or dive into the ocean off of a beach in New Zealand! It’s a direct confliction of my desires, so I feel sort of stuck at the moment… So, wise woman Gerty, I ask you this: should I study abroad? Is it right for me???
Small Town Girl
Dear Small Town Girl,
Thank you for asking such great questions! Although you may be just a small town girl, I must assure you that you are NOT living in a lonely world. You could take the midnight train going anywhere and have a phenomenal time no matter where “anywhere” is! Escape from normal life can seem very attractive, but I will confess that you’re certainly correct in thinking there is much to be missed while travelling. I miss my family, friends, and especially my pets - all 73 of them - each and every day that I’m roaming the world. However, I have a fantastic support system consisting of wonderful human beings that encourage me to follow my dreams no matter how far they take me. I’ve been to Japan, Australia, Ecaudor, Brazil, Iceland, and many more, but I can always come back to the same wonderful group of people that gave me hugs and well wishes before I left. Modern technology is also a fantastic blessing because it helps me keep in touch with those people on a regular basis! Although, I’m still working on my Snapchat skills… maybe you could help me in that department some day.
To concretely answer your questions, I’ll say this: you should study abroad. It is a glorious once-in-a-lifetime experience that you may never encounter again. You’ll be able to travel, meet plenty of new people, and challenge yourself to adapt in a new environment. However, your question, “Is it right for me???” is one that I can’t actually answer. YOU must answer it for yourself. Take as much time as you need to make the decision- you’ve only just begun your academic career, after all! One great idea is to create a chart that displays all the pros of studying abroad against all the cons. This makes it far easier for you to visualize the total utility this potential experience would have for you. In making this chart, be sure to do plenty of research and don’t be afraid to ask for help. Study Abroad Advisors nearby in Bemis would be happy to help! Contact Alaina Morales and/or Jeremy Doughty for more information. Also, be sure to talk with your family, your boyfriend, and even your cat (she’ll appreciate the effort). They can help you think things through and they will support you no matter what you choose to do. As a woman who has visited 35 different countries in her lifetime I can confirm that Dr. Seuss was onto something when he wrote the book Oh, the Places You'll Go! I think a quote that fits you quite well is this: “You’re off to great places! Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting, so… get on your way!” If you really want to climb a mountain in Central America, you can do that. Never stop chasing your dream Small Town Girl!
Good luck and (potentially) safe travels,
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