You learn about your identity and what you identify as.
When you’ve never been away from your country except for short holidays you don’t question your culture, society and national practices so much. However, when you start living in a new nation, by learning about a new culture you learn a lot about your own through comparison. I have found Australians to be very open and friendly, relaxed and helpful. In contrast, I realised that British and European people are generally more reserved, and less open and friendly. I also identified commonalities between me and the European exchanges, we share common practices, mannerisms and have similar cultures. These are examples of a few things I didn’t realise until I came to Australia and studied at ANU.
You become more adventurous.
One of the main reasons many students want to study abroad is to travel, which means that you make the most of your time and take every opportunity to visit a new cite or city. This make you more spontaneous, independent and organised (because trips don’t plan themselves). It makes you more of a yes person, because being in a new and different environment can be rejuvenating. You are likely to value your time more than you do back home and at your home university. For me this means every day becomes a new adventure and I am open to more experiences that life has to offer me. I also enjoy and appreciate every conversation and interaction I have with people as I am looking to learn from everything.
It will change the way you view the world – if you let it.
You soon come to realise how even common practices and shared norms like food, plug points and the way you express things can be very different, even if your countries are very similar. Your lifestyle changes, the way your express yourself can change and your day to day routine can become vividly different. You’ll have to compromise on lots of things and learn to adjust and manage, this makes you more flexible. There is also a liberating beauty accompanied with living out. It means at short notice you can pack and go somewhere new, and learn how to refresh your wardrobe and or completely throw style out the window when it’s cold and all you really need is layers.
By virtue of being in a different environment you are in contact with different ideas, different peoples and different opinions, this expands your horizons. It made me think about who I was beyond the superficial and what people saw me as. I shan’t dwell on this too much because everyone’s experience will be very different but the key to making the most of any experience is being open to whatever is happening around you and making the decision to participate, and learn. That is the key to making your study abroad experience as fulfilling and enriching as it can be.