Studying abroad changed my life

Published 7:00 am Friday, February 9, 2018

During my life I have traveled to several different countries. From carrying cinderblocks up the side of a mountain to build a house for a family in Haiti, to teaching English in Japan for a year, I have had a lot of experiences. Whenever I tell people about my travels, they often tell me they are jealous and wish they could travel abroad. However, for most of the people I speak with, traveling just doesn’t fit into their time or budget.

While this may be the case for most working Americans, college students have an advantage when it comes to traveling. Most major universities offer exchange programs, and will even cover a large portion, if not all, of the expenses for qualifying students.

During my time at William Carey University in Hattiesburg, I had the opportunity to travel to Linyi, China for a trimester. With my scholarship, the university covered my airfare, housing and meals while overseas. While in China, I attended one of the largest universities in East Asia. I learned Mandarin, attended martial arts classes, and even took piano lessons from a jazz professor from New Orleans.

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Due to the flexibility of my classes, I was able to travel the country with friends. I went hiking in nearby mountains, and spelunked through a cave lined with thousands of Christmas lights. I made friends with students and teachers from all over the world, including Russia, Korea, Mexico, and of course, China. I attended festivals, ate mysterious food and skateboarded with friends at night in front of the library. Studying abroad changed my perception of the world and opened the door for future travel. For Pearl River County students attending college, or even high school, I suggest looking into the possibility of studying abroad. Not just visiting. Living in another country will change the way you see other people and cultures in wonderfully unexpected ways.