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One of the best opportunities for college students is the study abroad option. Studying abroad gives students the opportunity to live in a new city, meet amazing people and gain exposure to new cultural experiences. I myself am living in Milan, Italy, this semester. So far, it has been one of the best experiences of my life. I have learned more about the world and its people in one month than ever before.
I would suggest participating in this experience since this opportunity is easily accessible to all CU Boulder students. In the 2015-2016 school year, 1,397 enrolled at the university traveled across the world on some type of abroad program and some 65 percent in Europe. Many go for different reasons, such as credit requirements, the need to see the world or just to find a new group of friends. Academics guided my decision to study abroad at first, but my focus has since shifted to changing my perspective on stress.
This is not so much of an endorsement of the study abroad option as it is an endorsement of not stressing out so much. As students, we spend so much of our time going to class, working on homework, freaking out over projects and complaining. When I got the chance to leave the country and start anew, I took it, knowing that this would be an opportunity to leave all that nonsense behind. Last semester I had a hefty load of 21 credits alongside too many extra-curricular activities. It stressed my friendships and it broke my willingness to work that hard ever again. Naturally, I left. I’m taking four classes — two of them non-attending: the only thing I show up for is the final exam. I go to the club when I want, I travel every weekend and I do what I want. Maybe you think that’s irresponsible, but I think it’s amazing.
Only 56 percent of students who enter college leave with a degree — the rest drop out. Many of us get the feeling that what we are doing isn’t worth it and that we’re just wasting our lives away in a classroom. Studying abroad is a safety net version of dropping out of school without actually dropping out. I feel like I dropped out of school, but I’m still in school.
If the daily stress of life is getting to you and you feel like you have hit a dead end — take a vacation. Run away to somewhere new, meet new people and do what you want when you want. Make a big change and those little things will start going away. Perhaps escapism can be a solution when you physically escape your current situation. Don’t hide from life, just embrace it in a different way.
If money is stopping you, know there are so many ways to travel on a budget — nothing has to stop you. Many CU students disregard the option of study abroad when they see the costs or think it will disrupt their graduation schedule. After personally discovering how simple and financially feasible it was to take part in this experience, I think students should put aside their worries. Financial aid can accommodate most situations, and there are always ways to get the credits you need.
Throwing everything out every once and awhile can feel good — it’s like spring cleaning. It is worth it and it is easier than you think. And I know what you’re thinking: “Good for you, now please stop bragging.” But this could be an easy fix for most people.
In plain speaking: being outside the United States has been amazing. I feel more alive and happier than ever before. I was happy in the U.S., but sometimes a change of scenery can make life even better. After my time abroad, I know I will feel nothing but joy and happiness to have gained such incredible memories. I will miss everything I have seen, the people I have met and the experiences I have had. I encourage everyone to take up this opportunity if it ever presents itself, because it will change your perspective for the better.
Contact CUI Opinion Columnist Conner Kingsley at email@example.com