9 Black Women Share How Studying Abroad Changed Their Lives

Is it time to spend a semester somewhere new? These moving stories will help you decide.

Ni'Kesia Pannell Aug, 25, 2017

1 of 9

I recommend studying abroad because it is a priceless experience that allows you to become a well-rounded citizen in society. A lesson I learned while abroad was that we can all lean on and learn from one another, no matter where you come from. A lot of the struggles we encounter are very commonplace, but through great communication and unity, we can persevere together.

2 of 9

I was in China for 4 months for a language and culture program during my senior year of college. Going to China was the first trip I had done by myself both domestic or international, so that was a big step in itself. I also realized how hesitant I had been to just step out of my comfort zone. Luckily I made friends there from all over the world that pushed me to gain more confidence, including singing in front of people and doing a speech in Mandarin! I studied at Anshan Normal University in Anshan, Liaoning Province, China. It's more in the rural area of China, but I still made great friends and had fun. They have a great scholarship supported by the Chinese government that pays for international students to come, so my tuition, housing and field trips were covered by that university. I recommend going because it opened my eyes to a whole new culture and really pushed me to embrace myself. The biggest lesson I learned was to stop restricting myself.

3 of 9

I recommend studying abroad to have a broader view on life. It helps to have an open mind and heart when you can put yourself in a completely different place where people you meet won't have the same political views, heritage, culture, religion, and even dialect as you. Studying abroad helps you look at life differently and you are more prone to trying new things, and continuing to see the world and how others live. Studying abroad made it much easier to view the things from others point of view, and say "Ohhhh okay I get it."

4 of 9

Studying abroad removes barriers within our own mind that can have a real impact on how we apply ourselves in day-to-day tasks, careers and lives. It is a powerful tool that takes concepts such as inequality, civility, privilege, friendship and joy to the world stage. Long-term travel and study in a foreign country is a necessary component of education that enables participants to fully embody the notion of global citizenry. Through study in Cameroon, I was able to learn how in the quest to “change (or impact) the world” we must first seek understanding. We as change agents cannot make assumptions about what change should look like without first (and continually) engaging the people and communities themselves. I thus realized in a short time that change firstly begins with recognition of self and ones biases. It is only then that we can work towards a more equitable (in resources and power) society.

5 of 9

My experience studying abroad was amazing! I went to Falmouth University in Cornwall, UK. My biggest lesson was about just growing up and being an adult. I was on my own in a completely new country, so I had to figure out their customs, how to get around, and basically just learning everything as I went along. My first year was fine as I was living on campus and I had a decent amount of loans. But when it came to summer, all of my friends went home and I was homeless for a good week, as campus housing ended and I couldn't move in to my new house yet. I ended up being homeless for a few days every summer. My last year I had to get a job to pay my rent, which a lot of students didn't do, so that made me grow up quite quickly. These things didn't make my experience bad or anything, I actually appreciate them because now I know that I can do it. I do recommend studying abroad because there were so many great things that I've experienced and was exposed to that shaped me into being the woman I am now.

6 of 9

I studied in Tanzania and Zanzibar, Africa during Maymester of 2016 and was there for about a month. During that time, I studied the link between European colonization and skin bleaching practices. My experience was greater than I ever imagined it could be. In addition to learning about the long-term effects that colonialism has on East Africa, I also came face to face with the amount of privilege I am bestowed simply for being American. As someone who was born and raised in a first world country, I took so many things for granted that I now recognize as the blessings they are. The people of Tanzania have a joy and appreciation for life that is devoid of the love of money and material things that we have in America. Through them, I was reminded of the importance of human relationships and remembering that the purpose of life is to truly live it. Africa is truly a rich and beautiful continent but the real worth lies in its people. I wholeheartedly recommend studying abroad if you are ever presented with the opportunity, especially if the location houses a culture that is different from your own. It can and will change your life forever.

7 of 9

Studying abroad was the best decision I made during college, I would highly recommend it to anyone who has the opportunity. The experience of living abroad is unmatched by any other. Being able to learn and witness the values, culture and traditions are life changing. Your perspective as an individual will be forever altered. The greatest lesson I learned was to take a chance! I almost did not study abroad because of the cost and other factors. Looking back, I am so thankful that I took that chance!

8 of 9

The greatest lesson I learned while studying abroad, was to just go and experience everything! The lasting lessons I learned had nothing to do with supply chain management, but with really submerging yourself in someone else's culture. I have the memories of struggling through the marché and having my classmates rely on my broken French. I remember being bombarded with questions from people in Turkey about my hair and my skin. In this day and age, I believe it's important for young people to experience the world for themselves; not just through their televisions or timelines, but with their own senses and with their classmates. My only regret is that I didn't do more than one trip.

9 of 9

I studied in Italy with Southern Methodist University in partnership with NYU. Although I had traveled considerably for leisure, I was very naive to the ways of other cultures and customs. My professors allowed us time to observe and absorb the patterns and behaviors of our new but temporary home while challenging ourselves to respect and appreciate the realities of the country. Take the opportunity to study abroad to stretch your mind beyond the traditional classroom.