Are you interested in Studying Abroad? If you have never thought about it, you should start thinking about it now. Studying abroad is an experience that will change your life and broaden your horizons in ways you did not know were possible. It is a priceless experience that will make you come back a brand new person. Studying Abroad promotes personal growth, intercultural development and education and career attainment.

While studying abroad, be sure to keep an open mind. You are not there to do the same thing you have always been doing. You are there to broaden your perspectives. Try speaking the languages, eating the food and socializing with the locals. Find out what the locals’ favorite past time is and where they like to hang out and try and join them. Be sure to always be aware of how you are acting, though; you would not want to unintentionally offend anyone.

Trust me, this is the best way to learn the culture and get the most out of your experience. When I was in Europe in June, the best memories and experiences were when I went off the “tourist” path and tried experiencing the culture. You truly learn about yourself and what you are capable of when you find yourself alone in a place where nobody speaks English but you. Even if you don’t talk to anybody, keep your eyes open. You might be surprised how much you learn by observing. For instance, you may think of Paris and think about croissants or the Eiffel Tower, but you never really know Paris until you do something like watch a soccer game with a bunch of locals in a public park directly across from the Eiffel Tower. It is those experiences that allow you to fully engulf yourself into a culture and experience it firsthand.

If all this observation and keeping an open mind seems hard for you, do some research about your destination before you go. It might help you prepare for what you are going to experience when you arrive. By knowing a little bit more about the culture, people, and food before you go there, your culture shock may not be as extreme as you think or expect. Most of all don’t worry and just have a good time; you are in a new place with new people experiencing new things and about to have the time of your life.

Bianca R. Kofman is a senior at San Diego State University majoring in Kinesiology and minoring in International Studies. Originally from Monterey, California, Bianca moved to San Diego for college and will be graduating in May, hoping to pursue a career in nonprofits and international business. She joined NSCS during the spring of her freshman year at SDSU and is a member of Delta Gamma-Epsilon Sigma Chapter, Rotaract and Mortar Board. Visit her website to talk about community service, travel or business or connect with her on Linkedin.  Click here to view her other writing samples and blog posts.