A regret many adults have following their college education may be not having spent time abroad. Whether it be studying, interning or working in another country, nothing should stop a student from spending time abroad.
This past summer, I completed an internship in Jerusalem and could not imagine my life without this experience.
Developing a daily routine in a new city with norms that were foreign gave me the strength to adapt to any challenge I came across. Whether it was the threat of a terror attack, having to change my bus because of overcrowding or finding a place to eat.
While abroad, I did not want to spend my time agonizing over the unknown. While abroad, you want to embrace the experience. Time abroad is valuable. Keeping an open mind and heart can only be beneficial.
Spending time overseas does not need to be a financial strain. Hundreds of scholarships are available to students. Price tracking websites such as SkipLagged.com and Airfarewatchdog.com provide users with more affordable flight options than the airlines’ own domains. Yes, the journey will cost money — but that doesn’t mean it has to be expensive. The lessons you have the potential to learn, people you will meet and growth you will make make the cost worth it.
It’s the little parts of the day that I miss most about spending time abroad. I miss purchasing Magnum ice cream bars on my walk home, using the milk frother for my lattes in the morning before the start of work, the smell of fresh fruits and spices that flooded the “shuk” (bazaar) and relaxing in a lounge chair on the beaches of Tel Aviv with a glass of mint lemonade in hand. Not to mention walking around the city for hours, hoping to get lost. Even more importantly, I’ll miss having Shabbat meals with various families who opened their homes to me when I needed a meal Friday nights and Saturday afternoons. We were connected via a Facebook page, and I inquired that I needed a meal for the weekly Sabbath. These individuals became my family as we broke bread and spoke about our life experiences in the US and in Israel. These moments are foreign to my life here in the U.S..
Depending on the country chosen, the language barrier may be shocking at first. It can be scary to be unfamiliar with the native tongue, but adapting to the sound of a new language will come quickly.
One day while riding the bus, the driver signaled for my attention. Anxiety rushed over me, not knowing how to respond to the bus driver’s request in Hebrew. I paused and created a mental plan of how to understand him. I looked to a man sitting near me, hoping he could read my mind. He did, and told me that I needed to walk back to the front of the vehicle and collect my receipt.
I was not allowed to communicate with my therapist for security reasons. So in the three months I was away, I had to self-soothe when my anxiety appeared. I became my own counselor, mentally coaching myself during difficult times.
In time overseas I evolved into a more confident and self-assured woman. I now possess self-compassion. I am more content with who I am and what I believe in — and could not be more grateful.
It’s a new school year, and so everyone should start to think about their trip abroad — get struck by the magic of a foreign country.