Anna studied in South Africa on the Cape town, South Africa: Parks and People Program during the Spring of 2014.
If you could give only one reason, why would you suggest other students study abroad?
Students should study abroad to break out of their comfort zones and challenge themselves to engage in an unfamiliar environment. Studying abroad allows you to explore who you are as a person, and what makes you passionate and excited about life.
What concerns/fears did you have about studying abroad, and how did you overcome them?
One fear I had about studying abroad was the length of time that I would be away. However, studying abroad for an entire semester forced me to fully engage myself during the program. I overcame my fears about the length of my program by becoming closer to other participants on the program and focusing the highlights of my program.
My program excited me because we were constantly traveling throughout South Africa during the program. In ten weeks (the length of the program), we lived in at least ten different locations. I loved the ability to explore new environments throughout the program. My program is also different than other programs because of the amount of time you spend outside in nature. We would camp, hike, and conduct field work- all as a part of class! During the program my group and I explored the relationships between natural spaces and the people living within and around them. There were many opportunities where we examined and visited South African nature reserves and national parks, something I’d never thought I do without this program.
How have you used the skills you learned abroad now that you are back; either in job searching, or in other activities?
After studying abroad, I am able to better explain myself, my passions and my motivations. While abroad, my group was constantly explaining our purpose for traveling in South Africa, and because of this I have become more comfortable with speaking to new people and introducing myself and others. This has helped me tremendously when interviewing for jobs and giving interviewers a glimpse of the person I see myself as.
What advice would you give to outbound study abroad students to help them make the most out of their study abroad experiences?
Be sure to say yes to challenge, yes to exploration and yes to newness. It is incredibly important that you study abroad with an open mind and an open heart. You never know how much studying abroad will truly change you.