Going abroad is not a new idea for someone already considering taking steps to become an international student. But how about setting off on another journey – either an academic exchange or an internship out of the States – while you're a student at a U.S. university?
I call it the "double-abroad" experience. If you love traveling and crave global cross-cultural adventures, schedule an appointment with the international office at your school today and ask about another study abroad opportunity.
The preparation process might intimidate you at first, but ultimately you will be grateful for this decision. Studying abroad can give you countless opportunities to learn and grow, including the following.
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1. Learn more about yourself: Reaching your American dream might already give you an unforgettable opportunity to reflect on yourself. But don't stop there on the way to discovering your passion.
I would have never imagined that I would be able to switch among three languages to communicate if I did not take a semester abroad. I would also have never imagined that a person with no sense of direction like me could actually use a map to travel around.
A friend of mine discovered a love for Jamaican cuisine and can now cook palatable Jamaican dishes, a cuisine that he was never exposed to in his native country or in the U.S.
Though you've already studied abroad in the U.S., a double-abroad experience can place you in different circumstances, improve your problem-solving skills and allow you to overcome seemingly insurmountable challenges.
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2. Become more flexible: If you find studying in America has already helped you adapt easily to new experiences, you'd be surprised how well you deal with change when you go to another country.
There is no better time to challenge yourself with new places, cultures and lifestyles. I learned to deal with plans that changed at the last minute, cook with ingredients that I hadn't even heard of before and enjoy talking to diverse people whose personalities might not perfectly match mine. I learned to be flexible in cultures that I knew little about.
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3. Hone your intercultural understanding: While you're involved in a double-abroad experience, you'll likely have three different perspectives – your reflections from your native country, the U.S. and the country you are visiting.
Living in another country for a semester brings you a fresh view and challenges your existing stereotypes about the world. When studying abroad in Paris, I had a great time comparing its drinking culture with that of the U.S. and of my home country.
College is a time for adventure. You don't know if you'll still have the courage in five or 10 more years to take these risks and challenge yourself. Don't wait until tomorrow to discover the world, to make mistakes and learn from them.
I decided to hop into another study abroad journey and explore different mindsets, cultures and even myself. Think about what you could do during a similar adventure.
Mai-Linh Bui, from Vietnam, is pursuing a bachelor's degree in communications and a master's in communications, culture and media at Drexel University. Her minors are French and International Area Studies.