Expand your mind; study abroad

By Dana Choi
On September 15, 2011

  • Dana Choi, Editor-in-Chief. Ram Page

Over the summer, I visited my native country, South Korea, for Study Abroad. I'd been gone just long enough to feel anxious about returning, and I'd never been away from my family and home for an extended period of time.

I had no idea what to expect, and going into this program, I was completely open to whatever I was about to experience. I'd like to share my personal experience and offer some advice to anyone who has not studied abroad and would like to.

I met people (from both South Korea and from ASU) whom I am extremely glad to have met.

We visited many sites related to our courses and I learned, not just in a classroom or out of a textbook, firsthand about criminal justice, of which I barely knew anything prior to this trip.

Before the trip, I wasn't familiar with any religion besides the one I grew up with, and now I feel like I've really broadened my mind with knowledge about a totally different belief system, Buddhism.

Not only that, I was able to improve my Korean-speaking and writing abilities (one month makes a bigger difference than I could have ever imagined in practicing a different language) and learn, in-depth, about a completely different society.

Even though I'm of Korean descent, I was learning and experiencing just as much as everyone else, which never would have happened if I did not make the decision to take a leap and study abroad.

This is what I think—and keep in mind all students who have studied abroad are different and perceive their experiences differently—my time studying abroad was absolutely amazing, and I really want my fellow students to consider studying abroad and learn and see as much as I did.

There's the obvious reason: how many opportunities to travel to a different country (or countries) will come to you after you graduate?

I also believe it's so important to become more knowledgeable about the rest of the world, or at least accepting of cultures and beliefs that are different from your own.

This leads me to something I would like to emphasize: an open mind. I am a little disappointed in some students' reactions to studying abroad.

I've seen a severe lack of open-mindedness in some instances to the point that I wondered why some students bothered going through such trouble travelling overseas if they were going to be unwilling to learn about a totally different world.

  

I hope many more students will consider studying abroad, but not because they expect a vacation or because they expect to see only what the movies portray (there's a big risk of disappointment).

An open mind is necessary to really appreciate whatever program you choose has to offer. A genuine desire to learn about the subject(s), language, culture, and people of the country will go a long way.


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