Interested in traveling abroad? Tips to help you prepare.
By: Kate Riley, Broadreach HQ High School Adventures, Middle School
Traveling abroad can be life changing. Talking to friends and family who’ve traveled, studied or lived abroad is inspiring, and can push students to explore other, more nontraditional ways of learning. As a student preparing to study abroad, you might go through a wide variety of emotions leading up to the experience—that’s normal! Nervousness, excitement, curiosity and exhilaration all play a part in the journey leading up to any travel experience. While there is no right way to prepare or go on a trip abroad, these tips may help you know if you’re ready to take that step toward hands-on, explorative and experiential learning.
Have an open mind
No matter where you go or who you are with, open your mind to the differences you may experience. Things are going to be different than home, and being open to those changes will create a better travel experience for you. You cannot change another culture, but you can control how you react to what you see and hear. Work with your fellow students and your instructors to talk about what you see and how it’s different (or the same!) from what you’re used to. Talk about what you consider to be comfortable, and how it compares to the culture you’re in. Every country is different, offering its own set of values—be open to learning about them.
Ask for help
Exploring the unknown allows you to grow as an individual. However, it also pushes you to know your limitations and when to ask for help! There is nothing wrong with relying on a local person to give you directions if you’re lost, or asking your instructor to talk if you’re feeling homesick. Traveling abroad doesn’t mean you have to know everything or do everything on your own. If you’re brave enough to explore the unknown, you’re also brave enough to ask for assistance when you need it.
Grow by embracing the unknown
Leaving your friends, family and home community is challenging. When you step into another culture, your day-to-day experiences become more adventurous. Whether it’s navigating the streets of a new city or something as simple as ordering food at a restaurant, you will be challenged to think differently and be humbled to other ways of life. Don’t worry though—everyone is uncomfortable when they travel! The key is to embrace it, and go with the flow. Eat the food you’ve never eaten, and gesture your way through a conversation with a local citizen. See each potentially uncomfortable experience as a way to grow, not letting it diminish your outlook on the culture you’re in. On a Broadreach trip, work through those challenges with your fellow students, and talk to your instructors. Laugh together about missteps and learn from them—experiences like these help you grow.
It’s possible that nobody is ever fully prepared to travel abroad. It’s hard for most people to step out of their comfort zones and try something new. But, if you are truly open to seeing incredible new countries, experiencing different cultures, learning in hands-on environments and becoming part of an awesome team of students, then you have what you need to take the leap.
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