Appreciate Where You Are

Johnna Hawyard headshot
Johnna Hayward
March 5, 2019

The time has come. You’re studying abroad! There are undoubtedly an abundance of thoughts and emotions racing through your head. The moment you’ve been waiting for has finally arrived.

As soon as the airplane lands in the country that you’re about to call home the excitement starts to kick in. Almost immediately you begin to realize that there are a gazillion cities you must see in an incredibly short period of time. Which weekend will you go to Paris? What about Rome? What friends will you meet to travel with? How will there possibly be enough time for everything?

All of these emotions and questions are completely normal. Without a doubt you should travel to your favorite cities and see those places in the world that you’ve only ever dreamed of. But don’t forget about one extremely important thing: appreciate where you currently are in the world.

I have had countless friends tell me that they had an incredible study abroad experience, but their one regret was not truly getting to know the city and country that they were actually studying abroad in. From my personal experience, I can say that I completely agree.


  • Aim to know your study abroad city like the back of your hand!

  • First, hit all of the touristy and famous spots.

  • Then, do some research to find the best local places.

  • Become the ultimate tour guide for when your family or friends come to visit!

  • Exploring your city will also allow you to feel more at home for the next few months. It’s a win-win.   


  • Learn everything you can about your study abroad city and country.

  • What is the country’s history? How does it impact what your city is like today?

  • What is new and different about the culture? What similarities can you find?

  • What is the language? Is it new to you? If yes, do everything you can to learn it!


  • Again, travel everywhere that your heart desires. See those cities you’ve only ever dreamed of.

  • But definitely consider traveling a few weekends within your study abroad country.

  • See both the big cities and the small ones.

  • Explore the different cultures and terrains that your country has to offer.

Again, you should without a doubt explore and travel the world while you can. Check off as many cities as possible from your bucket list. But make sure to keep a few weekends free to appreciate both the city and country that you chose to study abroad in.

With all of this in mind you’ll complete your experience abroad feeling both well-traveled and accomplished. Not only did you have the opportunity to see multiple places in the world, but you were also able to truly understand and appreciate a brand new city, country, and culture. You might even begin to feel so comfortable in your new home that you decide to call it your permanent home at some point in the future…

Until next time!


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Johnna Hawyard headshot

Johnna Hayward

<p class="MsoBodyText" style="margin-top:.4pt; margin-right:14.7pt; margin-bottom:.0001pt; margin-left:5.5pt"><span style="line-height:103%">Hiya! My name is Johnna (pronounced John-na). I am from Peekskill, NY (about 45 minutes north of Manhattan) and I will be graduating from Penn State in December! I’m a marketing major with strong passions related to sports and nonprofit efforts. In my free time I take weekly yoga classes and enjoy capturing Penn State’s beautiful campus through my iPhone camera lens. Lastly, traveling is a huge passion of mine and I am thrilled for the experience that I am about to embark on in Barcelona!</span></p>

2019 Spring
Home University:
Penn State University
Peekskill, NY
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