It’s now almost eight months since I got on that plane back to my home country (England), and I find myself reflecting on how studying abroad has affected my life. There are many clichés I could use in this blog such as the positive impact of studying abroad through being exposed to another culture; learning in an unfamiliar environment and meeting new people… but there is no rhetoric to be found here. Every cliché I may potentially use is crammed full of truth.
There are two prominent aspects I think of whenever I talk about my journey to Australia; learning and friendship. From personal experience I had a brilliant education at Griffith and I met some of the most awesome people I know, but how will studying abroad affect your life? There are many challenges that you will take when studying abroad; it could be that you’ve never traveled alone before, you may not have even been in an airport before, or maybe you just don’t know what to pack. I’m sure there’s a blog for that though! Whatever challenges you face, studying abroad will be of massive benefit.
We all live our lives through very different methods, something I tend to do a lot is make key personal rules that I believe will ensure success. One of those rules is ‘Do something positive with every opportunity’, from my perspective following this rule meant that I needed to interact with as many diverse people as possible and to ensure I gained the most out of my learning. Eight months after leaving I have gained knowledge I would never have gained in England and secondly, I have international friends who provide a wide angle lens to my scope. Maybe that analogy is slightly flawed, but it’s how I feel about what I’ve gained from studying abroad.
I’ve now had time to use the experience of studying abroad back in my home country, where I’m currently preparing for my degree show. I have noticed in particular two changes that I’ve made because of my study abroad; they both have challenged my beliefs. Firstly I have benefitted from being exposed to students who speak English as a second language and this has allowed me to engage with cultures other than my own. I have taken a few German lessons because of this and found a real inspiration to learn a new language. I encourage anyone studying abroad to interact with people who have a different first language, it’s a gateway to another world and it opens up weird and wonderful avenues to explore.
Secondly I have noticed that my painting skills have drastically improved since I was challenged on my beliefs within painting; I never mixed my own colours and my friend (whom I met studying abroad) challenged this belief of mine and showed me that colours have far more depth than I originally thought. My best advice to anyone studying abroad would be to imagine you have a blank canvas that gets painted every time you learn something or do something new. Explore the environment, talk to as many people as possible, learn about their cultures, question your own ideas and embrace every obstacle that’s thrown your way. And when you do all these things and more; and when you look at what that blank canvas has become, you can decide for yourself if that canvas has turned into a piece of art.
Whatever decisions you make and whatever actions you take, you can be sure that upon your return, you will never experience life the same way.