My program, like pretty much any other study abroad program, includes trips organized by our advisors that are meant to both show us some cool places and teach us about the culture surrounding us. The problem is, while we get to go on these trips, I’ve hardly seen many of my program-mates work as hard as the program advisors in order to go on trips themselves. There’s nothing wrong in just wanting to focus on the programs already provided to you, but in my opinion, it doesn’t present as great of an opportunity for you to actually test your independence and create the opportunity for you to have an experience that you created entirely for yourself.
Part of the beauty of studying in a foreign country is that, well…you’re in a foreign country! Things are different from what you know, whether in a subtle or readily apparent manner. You are given the opportunity to discover that as much as you possibly could want in theory, but without a good amount of effort, you may not maximize the potential you’re given to actually do so. Just a simple search on the internet can give you ideas of what to do, but there’s something about simply going for a walk with the intention of getting lost that can benefit you immensely. Not only do you get to see the lesser-known areas of your country this way, it also forces you to interact with your surroundings if you actually hope to get home.
The question you need to ask yourself is this: Do I want to have a common experience, or do I want to really impress myself and others? Chances are, your study abroad program is going to be impactful regardless of how you go about it but, in my experience, it is much more beneficial to go the extra mile and spend a little more time being atypical, and a little less time sticking to doing what you know.
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Hi all! My name is Ben Krieger, and I am a rising Junior at Miami University in Oxford, OH. I grew up in the Cleveland area as an aspiring professional football player, but clearly that is a path that I've abandoned because I'll be in Japan during my first season away from the game in fourteen years! I'm very excited to be in Tokyo for the fall, and I've been preparing to be able to at least survive in Tokyo by studying Japanese for the first time ever in Beppu, Japan this summer. I may not be great yet, but hopefully you'll watch me grow as I blog my way through the fall program!