My mother always said to me; “If there is one thing I regret not doing, one thing I wish I would’ve done when I was young, it’s studying abroad.”
You may never get another chance to see the world.
Life gets in the way so easily.
You’ll start a family and before you know it, twenty years will have gone by.
Her words echoed in my head, her sage advice always in the back of my mind. I can’t describe when I first desired a semester abroad, but I do remember when I first realized it was a possibility.
It was last year, winter break of 2022, and I was still a sophomore at Indiana University. Home for the long break and bored out of my mind, I decided on a whim that I would search study abroad options, at first as only a way to fill my time; a pleasant, unrealistic vision. It all felt very hypothetical; Oh, I would love to go to Europe! To spend some time in Asia. To be in a place completely new. It wasn’t until I stumbled upon IES Abroad that I realized that my dream of studying abroad didn’t have to remain just an unfulfilled fantasy.
I felt an indescribable sense of belonging when I discovered Christchurch in New Zealand, a country otherwise known as Aotearoa—the Land of the Long White Cloud. I made my way through the program description, my hungry eyes devouring every quote, date and detail. I couldn’t have explained why, and I still cannot now, but Christchurch just felt right.
With a semester abroad at the University of Canterbury I could start my studies in July and stay until November. I could communicate with those around me in my first language while experiencing the rich bicultural atmosphere of both the Māori and Kiwi. There were stunning rigid mountains, fresh blue seas, and fjords. There was skiing, hiking, climbing, running, and biking to be done on the South Island.
I did research on New Zealand and found them to be ranked the second least corrupt country in the world. I found that they have excellent environmental policies, and that they actively campaign for the future of our Earth. As an Environmental Science major, every little thing about New Zealand appealed to me. It felt as if the Land of the Long White Cloud was calling to me; perhaps it had been for awhile but I had just now chosen to lend it my ear.
After days of discussion with my parents, I decided to take the leap. Thanks to my parents’ guidance and love and IES Abroad's simple application process, I was committed to what my mother had always dreamed of within the week. I made the difficult decision that I would go to Christchurch in less than a year, alone, with no expectations or others to rely on. My family and friends would be an ocean away and I would be a stranger to everyone and everything around me. I knew that this experience would change me fundamentally, and I burned to plunge myself into an unfamiliar way of life.
I decided to study abroad not only because of my mother’s support, but also because I yearned to push the boundaries of normalcy, to be immersed in a culture other than my own, and to redefine what it means to truly live. These are the things that study abroad will foster, if you only allow yourself to push past the discomfort and fear of trying something completely new.
Now, I can say with certainty that one day, I will tell my daughter, “If there is one thing I will never regret, one thing I’m glad I did when I was young, it’s studying abroad.”
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Environmental Science student from Indiana University who loves the Earth, good company, diverse experiences, creative endeavors, learning new things, friendly competitions, and the unpredictable nature of life.