How Studying Abroad Changed Three ESSENCE Staffers' Lives

A newfound partnership between the Council on International Educational Exchange and UPenn's Center for Minority Serving Institutions is on a mission to increase the dismal 5.3 percent of Black students who study abroad. Read what 3 ESSENCE staffers (and proud internationalistas!) learned from their studies abroad and see why all college students should consider booking a plane ticket ASAP. Bon voyage!

ESSENCE.COM Nov, 02, 2015

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I learned to say "yes" to every opportunity, even if it terrified me. I went snowboarding for the first time when I studied abroad in Switzerland during my Junior year of college. I wiped out and busted my lip, but I had a blast and now I snowboard whenever I can—without wiping out!

-Virginia Lowman, Assistant Beauty Editor
Studied in France and Switzerland

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Sometimes you forget how vast the world is. Studying and living abroad on my own really made sense of that old adage, 'the world is your oyster.' In truth, the whole world is in your backyard— you just have to be bold enough to venture outside.

-Virginia Lowman, Assistant Beauty Editor
Studied in France and Switzerland

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Something about studying abroad reawakens your appetite for greatness. You're in a land where everything is foreign to you—the food, the language, even the people you're studying abroad with. Your sense of fight or flight really kicks in because you don't have a familiar circle of friends to fall back on. That immersion in the unknown forces independence upon you and causes you to think in new ways. Three months later, you return to the States as a new person—better, wiser, more adventurous, more understanding and more cultured.

-Virginia Lowman, Assistant Beauty Editor
Studied in France and Switzerland

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I was only 16 when I studied abroad. I found similarities between myself and teenagers across the world on a tiny island. We all had crushes, went to school, had parents who nagged us and we all loved to goof around. It sounds simple but it was eye-opening. It helped me connect to others even if we didn’t speak the same language.

-Joslyn Winkfield, Photo Editor
Studied in Cape Verde

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I noticed how happy people were even if their homes were sparsely furnished, meals were simple and water was rationed. They were happier with less and helped me not complain about my own life so much.

-Joslyn Winkfield, Photo Editor
Studied in Cape Verde

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Cape Verde was a pretty epic adventure. It was my first trip outside of the States and I wasn’t with my parents. It gave me a huge push and a shot of independence that has driven me to travel all over the world. Seeing how others live is now a true passion for me.

-Joslyn Winkfield, Photo Editor
Studied in Cape Verde

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Before I stepped foot in Argentina, Incan remains were strictly confined to the pages of my textbook, empanadas were simply an appetizer at restaurants and the Tropic of Cancer was an imaginary line on a globe that was somehow (possibly?) related to my horoscope. But studying abroad brought all of those things—and more—to life. Turns out our world is pretty damn big. 

-Taylor Lewis, Editorial Assistant
Studied in Argentina

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Time is a mere suggestion in Argentina. The country's notoriously heavy (read: meat-filled) lunches are typically followed by a customary siesta where stores close and workers take an extended afternoon break. And guess what? No one cares! We're so used to our fast-paced American ways that it's nice to step back and realize that the world will not implode if we take a second or two to breathe.

-Taylor Lewis, Editorial Assistant
Studied in Argentina

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Before studying abroad, I thought I had a pretty good grasp of who I was—well, at least as well as a 20-year-old college student could—but being south of the Equator introduced me to a whole new Taylor. Of course, there were the frivolous things (i.e. I discovered my passion for red wine), but more so, I learned that I could survive on my own. Venturing to a foreign country where you don't speak the language is unbelievably daunting, but the payback is tenfold. 

-Taylor Lewis, Editorial Assistant
Studied in Argentina

Tags

# Travel

Tags

# Travel