Studying overseas has always been on my wish list since starting my degree, but it’s also something I’ve continually put off because:
a) I thought I couldn’t afford it.
b) I had no idea where to start looking for studying abroad things. It seemed like a logistical nightmare (which it very much was).
c) I thought I was too late in my degree to study overseas.
By some miracle things worked out in the end and I was off to Cuzco, taking a Biodiversity in Peru course!
Studying abroad has really opened my eyes and broadened my perspective. In this blog post, I’ll be sharing some things I’ve learned from my time overseas.
Here we go – here are 5 things I’ve learned from studying abroad:
1. You learn to be patient
I’ve come out of my study abroad experience with patience like a god.
Everything takes longer when you’re moving around Cuzco with a group of 20+ students. At times, it was extremely, incredibly and painstakingly frustrating.
How much noise do you reckon a group of 20+ uni students makes when we’re hiking through the beautiful and peaceful Amazon rainforest?
We went to the Amazon to look at the wildlife, but I’m pretty sure we scared off 80% of the animals around. Super counterintuitive.
You also learn to be patient, especially when it comes to waiting in massive lines for meals.
2. You learn to step outside your comfort zone and trust people
Going into the unknown and putting your trust in complete strangers was slightly scary.
The one time when I really relied on my new friends was when we hiked up to Huanya Picchu – one hike that I’ll never ever forget. I had to put all my trust in my friends to make sure I don’t fall to my death.
Funny story about this hike/mountain. We later found out that this hike was listed as one of the 20 most dangerous hikes in the world, and nicknamed the ‘Hike of Death’.
Well, THANKS FOR TELLING US THAT.
Or even when it came to climbing up these unstable structures. Yeeeeeeah, it was slightly worrying that the whole platform shook with every step you take. But we survived to tell the tale.
Trust also came down to food, and venturing out to try unfamiliar foods like guinea pig or alapca steak and hoping you don’t get sick from it (which, thankfully, we didn’t).
3. You learn to make the best of things
Things don’t always go to plan – and you learn make the most of it when that time comes.
There were times when we couldn’t afford to eat out, so we decided to have a very low budget feast back at our hotel. Even though it was horrible, crappy and very low nutritious food (think 2 minute noodles, potato chips, and the worst beer you’ve had etc.) – it was lots of fun!
Or when you had to wake up at 3am to leave for a field trip, and your bus rocks up with dysfunctional brakes, then a second bus arrives with not enough seats for everyone.
Everyone was rather grumpy at first – but we all laughed it off in the end.
4. You learn to appreciate the things you have
Studying abroad has made me realised how lucky I am.
How lucky I am to have had this opportunity to study overseas.
How lucky I am to be living in Australia.
How lucky I am to be where I am today!
One of the things that really struck a chord with me was when I saw many children begging on the streets of Cuzco. These children were around 10 years old. I just couldn’t believe it.
It was an awful reality.
I also realised that I took many things for granted back home. Things like clean drinking tap water, cooking facilities (we didn’t have access to the kitchen at our accommodation), decent wi-fi, privacy…and so many other things! You don’t appreciate these things until you’re removed from them.
5. You learn more about yourself
I learned that I was physically and mentally tougher than I thought I was. My body battled through grilling 9 hour hikes under scorching heat, and I even survived death-defying hikes.
I think that studying abroad has re-sparked my sense of curiosity. I loved wandering down strange and dodgy-looking alleyways and seeing what was down there (although I know my parents would highly disapprove). I loved getting lost in the city and finding cool shops.
Studying abroad has been an enriching and fulfilling experience, and if there’s still time left in your degree – you should look into studying overseas. It’s quite an experience, and one you won’t forget.
If you’ve studied overseas before, I’d love to hear about your experiences in the comments below! What did you get out of studying overseas?