In light of recent events back stateside, I wanted to revisit a blog post IES Abroad wrote in March of 2014 titled “10 Ways Study Abroad Leads to Happiness” and how it has fit in with my studying abroad experience:
- Giving — “Treat Yo Self” is a common phrase my friends used back home, but I never fully understood the meaning of it until I studied abroad. Studying abroad is a gift you give yourself. Wherever you study, it will be a once in a lifetime experience. So let yourself spend a little extra money on a snorkeling trip, or splurge on doing touristy things around your city. You will never regret letting yourself try something out!
- Relating — The relationships you make while abroad will completely change your outlook on life. I have met people from all over the world (I live with two kiwis, a spaniard and a welsh girl), and it’s funny to see how different our patterns are, but how similar we actually all are! Connecting with new people really helps create a sense of belonging in a place where you feel completely lost.
- Exercising — There is always going to be someplace that you haven’t explored. Take the time to walk, jog, or bike around. A while ago, I decided I needed to take a break from sitting in my room writing papers, so I went for a walk to explore a little around the area. I ended up finding a pop-up bakery, and it was the most wonderful little surprise! Definitely don’t take the bus everywhere.
- Appreciating — Going abroad, I kept telling everyone that I was so glad I would finally be “truly independent” for once in my life. And I am so, so appreciative of the independence that I have abroad, but it has honestly just made me that much more thankful for the support system that I have back home. I am constantly texting my huge family GroupMe, and I FaceTime my friends at least once a week! Having their support form back home has made me see what an amazing community that I come from, and has made all the difference.
- Trying Out — Studying abroad in and of itself is a giant leap outside your comfort zone. You’re faced with literally a new everything. But I urge you to not get complacent in what you’re doing. You’re only going to be wherever you are for a few months, so keep trying out new things, and changing up your weekly routines! I have Tuesdays off from classes, so I always try to find a little excursion to take somewhere in the city - even if it’s just visiting the botanical gardens, or a different coffee shop!
- Direction — One of the greatest things about being abroad is that you are literally always lost. But it’s cool, because it gives you a chance to find out new things about yourself, and about the country you’re in! This can be in any regard - career, stores, food, anything. I know that for me, studying abroad has solidified what direction I want to go with my life, but don’t be scared if the experience just makes you more uncertain - that just means there's more adventures you need to go on before you figure it out!
- Resilience — Like being at home, there will be tough times full of stress, failure, and sadness. But how you deal with these situations abroad can change how you view yourself as a person. Particularly during the past month, I have felt extremely anxious regarding the tragedies in America. But I’ve found that being open with myself and talking it through with trusted friends can help you process things a lot better, making you an all around more resilient person
- Emotion — Learning how to properly express yourself will make you a better person in the future, and trust me, you’ll have a lot to express while abroad. Like I said above, being open with yourself and your supporters back home will contribute a lot to your happiness while abroad, and help you truly enjoy your experience.
- Acceptance — Intercultural acceptance is something that a lot of people aren’t ever faced with in life. Learning to accept new ways of thinking can help you succeed so much more in the future, and studying abroad anywhere will help a lot. Everyone you meet abroad has a story to tell, and you have so much time available to listen to them!
- Meaning — No matter how much you wish it, studying abroad won’t give you all the answers to life. But it’s still important to try to make your time abroad as meaningful as possible. Whether this be through volunteering, traveling, or meditating, by building yourself and others up, you'll end up being a happier person, and not regret your time abroad at all. Find the value in enjoying the little things.
I also wanted to share some pieces of my most treasured places to visit, Sumner Beach and Kaikoura. Sumner is an hour bus ride away from the University, and the rocks there are great to climb up on and watch the sunset from. Kaikoura is about two hours away, and has the most breathtakingly beautiful sunrises I have ever seen. It’s also the first place I ever saw a black sand beach, and a seal!
Mountain range from our campsite at Peketa, Kaikoura.
Mount Fyffe standing tall behind a grazing cow, Kaikoura.
A fur seal posing for the camera, Kaikoura.
IES Abroad students Madison Saliba, Brendan Eder, and Ardelia Krupkin walking on a farm, Kaikoura.
A cow that we found while lost on a farm, Kaikoura.
A few minutes before the sun rose over the Pacific Ocean, Kaikoura.
A full sunrise over a black beach, Kaikoura.
On the walk to Taylor's Mistake, Sumner Beach.
View just after sunset from the shoreline, Sumner Beach
Lukas Reiter, an exchange student from Austria, taking a picture of the sunset through a cave, Sumner Beach.
Long exposure shot of the town on a hill, Sumner Beach.
Sunset after hiking Taylor's mistake (the person closest is IES Abroad student Bella Luizzi), Sumner Beach.
The town on a hill right before sunset, Sumner Beach.
Overlooking the Pacific Ocean on Taylor's Mistake, Sumner Beach