By Troy Stiles, ISA Marketing Communication Manager
As 2016 comes to a close, we can, without a doubt, say that it was a year that we won’t soon forget. Like many other people, you may have set goals at the beginning of the year. Setting goals shows ambition. It shows focus. It shows that you have passion for something or at least did at the start of the new year.
Were you able to accomplish all the goals you set out to accomplish in 2016?
Maybe so. Maybe not. Either way, it’s okay. Because the start of 2017 is just on the horizon and you’ve got another chance to use the brightness of the New Year to dust off some of those goals that got left behind as life happened or dream about new goals and the vision of what could be.
I find that the holiday time is a great time to think, reflect, and plan for what I hope to accomplish in the coming year.
So, what do you want to accomplish in 2017?
Here’s an unsolicited suggestion, how about taking part in an abroad experience? Yes, I work for ISA and that’s what we do. We help college students study, intern or have a service learning experiences abroad, but that’s not the only reason I suggest it.
I suggest it because that’s one of my top goals for 2017. I suggest it because my first experience abroad changed my life and has led me to where I’m at today, both personally and professionally. My first trip abroad was in 2003. It was the graduation present that I gave to myself – a trip to South Africa. I was nervous. I was a little scared. But I was beyond excited. During my two and a half weeks abroad, I learned a lot. I learned about jet lag. I learned about self-awareness. I learned that lions and elephants aren’t just in zoos and that I was the one with the accent. But despite being crammed in the middle seat on the 15 hour flight back home to the U.S., I couldn’t wait to go abroad again. I could ramble on and on for hours with stories about things I’ve seen and places I’ve been since that first experience, but the most important thing that being abroad has taught me, is that I could do it. And so can you.
So, no matter how nervous you might be about a new culture or apprehensive about branching out on your own or being in a different country without knowing the language, just know that you can do it. I mean, I successfully navigated Italy and the only Italian phrase I knew was, “Do you understand English?” My first abroad experience literally opened up a whole new world for me. And it will do the same for you.
Forget about the benefits of studying abroad or working in a foreign place for a minute, just think about how incredible it would be to walk by the Colosseum in Rome on a daily basis or Big Ben in London! To say that the Eiffel tower was in your backyard or the Sahara desert was a short trip away. To be able to jump on a train and visit Machu Picchu in Peru over a weekend or go snorkeling at the Great Barrier Reef in Australia.
For me, my first experience abroad took me to South Africa’s Kruger National Park. I saw elephants, giraffe, lions, impala, zebra, and so many other indigenous animals in their natural environment. I interacted with locals and shopped at shopping malls and visited local historic sites and actually EXPERIENCED things in a way that would never have been possible if I hadn’t gone.
So, I’ll ask this again, what do you want to accomplish in 2017?
Do you want to get in better shape? Do you want to finish up a project you’ve been wanting to finish? Or do you want to accomplish something that will literally have an impact on you for the rest of your life? Experiencing another culture or another country will have that impact. Whether you choose to study or work abroad or even just travel independently, make experiencing another country a goal in this new year. Make it a goal because it’s fun. Make it a goal because it’s something that will make you a better you. Make it a goal because the more of the world you see, the smaller it becomes and the smaller it becomes, the more you want to see of it. And the experience is pretty great too.
Want to learn more about how you can accomplish your goal of studying or working abroad in 2017? Fill out the form below and an ISA Student Services Advisor will be in touch.