During college, I had the opportunity to study abroad in the beautiful country of Cambodia! Although it was only for a month, this experience was full of incredible value to me and it continues to impact me, even several years later. We studied the culture, traditions, religions, missionary work, and most of all, the government systems and injustices that had occurred in recent decades. I fell in love with Cambodia while I was there and I’m so grateful that I had a unique chance to experience life in South East Asia for a month!
Here are my 4 reasons why anyone should study abroad, even if it’s for a shorter length of time:
1. You’ll realize the world doesn’t revolve around you.
I know that may sound a bit sassy, but I suppose that studying abroad opened my eyes up to the grand (and oh-so-expansive) story of the human experience! When you study abroad, you realize – really realize, at your core – that there are other people’s stories and lives going on all around the world, outside of your own. People are learning and striving and struggling to succeed and hoping and dreaming and overcoming, just like we are!
This concept especially struck me whenever we would have a “field trip” for a day and we’d board a bus together to actually leave the big city. As our bus bounced along the more rural roads, I’d see little snippets of what daily life looked like for the people we passed. It was such an eye-opening experience and really sparked curiosity in me. I wanted to know more about these people and this amazing country!
2. You’ll be challenged in new ways.
Before Cambodia, I never had to walk to the market to buy food and carry it all the way “home” (to our hotel). I hadn’t had to learn how to barter well, or how to hand items or money to others only with my right hand and never with my left! There were so many new things to remember – and I wanted to be constantly learning about the culture and the customs. In an even deeper sense, our group found ourselves challenged emotionally and mentally; there were so many things we learned about – and saw – that left us feeling heartsick and discouraged by the ethics of existing systems and the evils of the world. It was a lot to process. But was it good and valuable stuff to process? Definitely!
3. You’ll make new friends.
Friends from that country and friends in your travel group. Our group was relatively small and we quickly formed many new friendships. After all, traveling across the world to an unfamiliar place where we were often tired, overwhelmed, or processing difficult things, has a way of bringing people together quickly. It was also fun to stay in the same city for a 2-week stretch because we found ourselves chatting with the hotel staff and even joking around with the familiar faces of the coffee shop employees down the road.
4. It’ll give you a whole new perspective from which to view history.
(Can you tell I’m a history teacher’s wife?) If we live in only one country for our entire lives, it can be hard to give extra thought to what it may feel like for others to experience world events. Since we spent time in Asia, on the opposite side of the world from the U.S., I’ve found that I am much more interested in the history and the current circumstances of the countries in that region. I’m so glad that my experience in Cambodia brought me this fresh take on how the governments and people groups of the world interact with each other. It’s such an important perspective to have!
If you’ve studied abroad before, what were some things you learned? Why do you think it’s important to study abroad if you have the opportunity? Tell me below in the comments!
Hannah is a lifestyle blogger at Just Bee where she blogs about her rural Minnesota life among other topics like food, tips & tricks, travel, and marriage. On a typical afternoon, you’ll find her in skinny jeans, dreaming about a chai latte and listening to Gregory Alan Isakov on the record player. She loves searching for small joys and believes that the richness of life lies in the little things (and a big Savior).