Three Things That Helped Me Make My Decision to Travel Abroad

Sophia Ferraro Headshot
Sophia Ferraro
May 24, 2024
The view of a city at night from an airplane.

I have never studied abroad, yet I decided for my first experience to fly across the globe to intern in Sydney, Australia. Going from point A to Z sounds drastic, especially if you have never studied abroad and are thinking of embarking on such a trip. Despite the distance and drastic change, I saw this decision as an opportunity to experience a culture vastly different from my home peninsula of Florida, expand my knowledge outside of the classroom, and gain insights from Australian professionals that may contrast American work life. How did I transition from the fear of leaving home to becoming ambitiously excited about traveling abroad? Here are the steps I took that led me to my ultimate decision: 

  1. Ask those around you who have studied abroad. 

    My older sister studied abroad not once, but twice, in Barcelona, Spain, and acquired her masters in Edinburgh, Scotland. Before I clicked the submit button for my application, I had lengthy conversations with my sister about the pros and cons of traveling abroad, her experience, and her recommendations. She served as a positive, encouraging foundation for my decision, but the conversations didn’t stop there. I decided to ask my classmates and friends about their experiences, and their replies were overwhelmingly ecstatic, which led to their faces lighting up with the thought of going back to their study-abroad location. Watching each of my friends romantically sigh when they thought of the places they saw, laugh at the unique stories they shared, or gleefully cheer that they couldn’t recommend anything better than traveling abroad, I saw these conversations as a sign that my experience could be one of a lifetime, and I shouldn’t take this opportunity for granted. 

    What if those you ask didn’t have thrilling or noteworthy experiences studying abroad? That’s ok! Your decision shouldn’t come down to what other people feel but to the potential of what you could experience if you took the leap of faith. 

  2. Do research on the locations you’re considering. 

    When researching cities to study abroad, my friend Emma and I wrote a list of our top choices and programs offered in those locations. Since both of us are studying video production, we wanted a city that allowed us to learn and practice our production skills beyond what the classroom offers. While scrolling through the IES Abroad options, the Sydney Internship program was the best fit because it not only provided an educational experience but also offered an opportunity to develop professionally. I prefer a hands-on experience to develop my skills further, so selecting a location was not just about the beauty and culture a city offers, but also about the resources a potential location could provide and how I will benefit academically and professionally. 

  3. Evaluate your needs and skill set. 

    Studying abroad is a wonderful, privileged experience, but it is important to consider what you need when you decide to embark on your journey. Ask yourself what personal achievements you want to accomplish when you enter your program, and what you would like to depart with when your time abroad comes to an end. In making my decision, I knew I wanted to go abroad to gain professional experience that differs from what I have experienced in the U.S. and learn from industry professionals so that I can strengthen my skills in video production and writing. If you don’t have the particular skills for a program, go in with an open mindset. Who knows, you may find that you learn something new, something you never thought you would have needed until your journey abroad. 

    Overall, I view my eventual time abroad as a moment of unknown opportunity; I want to soak up every piece of knowledge and professional experience I can so that when I return to college, I can apply my newly expanded skill set to my future academic and professional work. It’s okay to go into your trip filled with anticipation, feeling jittery at the thought of leaving home because, believe me, I feel the same way; however, as you go through the decision process, those nerves will slowly subside and the excitement of embarking on such an ambitious journey begins! My last piece of advice is this: if you see the opportunity to do something outside of your comfort zone, take it! You never know where it might lead you….

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Sophia Ferraro Headshot

Sophia Ferraro

As a TV show and film fan, I enjoy watching animated content (huge on Pixar and Studio Ghibli!), with my favorite movie being Howl's Moving Castle and my favorite show being The Office. I have two dogs named Luna and Fiolo, and I enjoy the beach!

2024 Summer 1
Home University:
Florida State University
Film Studies
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