Three Movies To Watch Before You Study Abroad

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Alyssa Burlison
May 6, 2024

As a film major, I’ve wanted to do this post for a while now but could never decide on what movies to include. At first I toiled with focusing on movies that take place in Sydney. I would have written about Finding Nemo and Anyone But You. However that would only apply to a small audience. Next I considered throwing in movies that take place in multiple cities around the world. However Cars Two and Spiderman Far From Home focus more on action rather than the importance of the experiences one might face when abroad. In the end, I decided to go with movies that emphasize how the main character or characters are shaped by new experiences they face away from home. Now that I’ve perfected my list, I believe that the three movies I included will help set anyone up for a great experience in a new country. 

  • The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty

    Including The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty is a little biased. I loved this movie long before I considered studying abroad. However, what I loved about the film before my exchange semester is that it doesn't shy away from the fear the main character feels before he embarks on his adventure. In fact there are a couple of moments when Walter Mitty is so consumed by fear he considers turning down his call to action. When I watched this a week before I left home, this felt super relatable. I had never been away from my family for more than a month and the thought of leaving slowly became more and more terrifying. However, in the film, Walter Mitty is often terrified but pursues his journey anyway. Therefore, The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty is the perfect film for any young traveler. It levels with you about the fear you might feel before you study abroad but hints at all the amazing experiences that will come your way if you face your fears.

  • The Sisterhood Of The Traveling Pants

    One of the few downsides of studying abroad is leaving your friends behind. In fact, I was heartbroken to go a semester without my treasured Dunkin runs with my two best friends. The Sisterhood Of The Traveling Pants conveys that leaving your friends behind might be hard but the journey is worth it. Not only that, but the film also proves that your friends will still be there for you despite being miles away. In the film we watch as a group of high school girls are separated for a summer. Each girl is pulled away to some romantic adventure around the world for one reason or another. However, despite the distance they face, the girls find creative ways to keep in contact and are always there for eachother. Watching this film with your friends would make the perfect girls night before you study abroad. It proves that despite being apart your friends are still there for you no matter what.

  • Moana

    This one might be a little “Disney Adult” for me to include, but I really connected with the film before moving to Sydney. At the beginning of the film, Moana desperately wants to leave home and embark on a great adventure. However, once she does, she realizes it isn’t nearly as glamorous as she expected. I believe this is relatable for most students who study abroad. We have long felt a calling to go somewhere new but might over romanticize how things will go. I can promise you that the daydreams I had about coming to Australia never predicted the weekends I spent inside studying for an exam. With that being said, Moana loves her journey despite the unpredictable challenges she faces. In the end, I included Moana because most exchange students will relate to her yearning to leave home and experience something new. The film will also prepare you for the unexpected challenges you’ll face and how it’s important to find love for every step of the journey. 

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Alyssa Burlison

Hi! My name is Alyssa Burlison and I'm a writing and film double major at Texas Christian University.  I love to write and am working on a romantic comedy inspired by Jimmy Buffet's music. I'm a foodie and I love hiking and stand up paddle boarding! 

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