By Jenna Billings
Public Relations Manager
When selecting the university where I would spend the next four years of my life, I had a list of concerns that I would bring with me on college visits.
The size of the campus, what major options the school had, what clubs were popular…they all seemed of the utmost importance to my 18-year-old self. I remember one particular college visit, though where I was asked a question I had never considered: “Have you thought about whether you might want to study abroad?”
To me, that sounded crazy. Leave the country? I am really close to my family, and the thought of moving three hours from my hometown seemed terrifying enough at the time. So my
knee-jerk response to that student ambassador was, “No, definitely not.”
Now, as a senior, sometimes I think back to that random college visit where I declared to myself that a semester abroad would not be an option I’d ever explore.
While I can’t change my decision, I do think about what I have both lost and gained by not studying abroad in college.
Coming into college, I had a broad idea of what I was interested in, but had no particular career in mind. Another question that terrified my 18 year-old self was “What are you hoping to major in?”
A teacher I had in high school had suggested I try communications or journalism, because I liked to write. I also had a passion for political science, and had a fascination with law, so I thought maybe I would also take some classes in that area.
Four years later, I am graduating with a Bachelors of Arts in Communications Studies with a concentration in Advertising and PR, and minors in Honors Studies, Political Science and Business.
All this, not because I could not make up my mind, but because my schedule permitted me to take five to six classes every semester because I did not go abroad.
This isn’t to say I don’t sometimes wish I did. Pictures flooding my social media feeds of my friends and sorority sisters sipping wine in Tuscan vineyards or hiking in the Alps occasionally sparked daydreams about having my own international adventure.
But what I have come to discover is that although I may have lost out on the unique experiences I could have had in another country, I have gained a great deal by staying right here.
College was my adventure. Acquiring knowledge in three major subject areas helped me find my passion. Discovering life-long friends helped my through some of the hardest times of my life.
Most of all, the adventure I have had over the last four years has been finding myself.
Everyone is different, and many attribute self-discovery to their study abroad experience.
But for me, a person who once thought small hometown life would be all I would ever want, college was about stepping out of my comfort zone, and I can say that even though I didn’t cross borders, I did that.