If I had to choose one thing that has affected my life significantly, I would have to give (international) travel the gold. To be honest, I think there are definitely pre and post-study abroad Alishas that might as well be different species.
While I can't put my finger on exactly what about the experience of traveling changes you, I am going to give it my best shot!
1. It takes you out of your comfort zone.
This one may be cliché, but it's true. I remember waiting to board the plane to Budapest - for my first-ever overseas flight - and I was out-of-my-mind nervous and excited. I was self-conscious, underprepared and definitely about to do many things for the first time over the next week. While I played all the things that could go wrong over and over again in my head, I was probably missing out on appreciating some of the rawest emotions I'd ever experienced. And what disasters ensued? Absolutely none! The trip was amazing and any hiccups we encountered were easily overcome and forgotten.
By the time I decided to study abroad for a semester during my junior year of college, the overseas flight jitters had subsided a bit, but the whole "living in a European city for four months when I don't speak the native language" thing was certainly weighing heavily on me. What happened during that semester is that I adapted, I trusted my instincts and I thrived in an environment that was challenging in the best way possible.
2. It teaches you things about your personality.
When I decided to spend the semester abroad, I thought I had a good idea of the types of people I typically got along with and the ways I enjoyed spending my free time. What I discovered while living in Italy was that I enjoy many different personalities and walks of life. I made an entirely new group of friends and went on adventures that I may not have considered prior.
I also discovered that I am a lot braver than I give myself credit for. There is something about being in a place where you don’t know anyone and don’t speak the language (yet) that gives you courage. If you had asked pre-study abroad Alisha how well I thought I would adapt to my new environment, my answer would have been insecure and uncertain. I returned home at the end of the year confident and sure of my capabilities and myself.
3. It gives you a new appreciation for the world.
There are some places for which reading about, seeing photos or video of, or hearing first-hand accounts of will never be the same as seeing it first-hand. Let me emphasize this: the world is a beautiful, fascinating, amazing place. What excites me is that I can stay this with an honest heart and I have only visited a miniscule fraction of the Earth. I know there is so much more out there waiting for me to explore!
Since I implemented travel as a part of my lifestyle, I’ve noticed that I always return home feeling refreshed and rejuvenated. It’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day routine of life, as well as the negativity that goes with it. Traveling gives you a new perspective and an opportunity to bring the positivity back.
4. It makes you a better employee.
While I believe that traveling makes you a better person in general, there is something to be said about how the above experiences influence you as an employee. These experiences can help craft you into an empathetic, constructive, confident person that would make a positive impact on any team.
In addition, international travel looks great on a resume! Employers like to see that you have experience communicating with other cultures and likely some awareness of global operations. While my post may be titled, “Four Reasons to Travel Before You Graduate College,” it’s important to make both international and domestic travel a priority in your life post-graduation as well.
If you’re interested in ways you can implement a global aspect into your education, you can check out CSB’s study abroad programs, or our International MBA degree that enables you to earn two master’s degrees in one year – in two different countries!
May your wanderlust be strong and your flights affordable!