Seoul sign study abroad

The view from the Seoulism Cafe in South Korea during Leslie Bueno's study abroad.

Being able to travel to a foreign country while earning college credits is the perfect excuse to travel for students. Studying abroad is one of the best experiences any student can have, and personally has been the best part of my time in college.

Although it may sound a bit nerve-wracking to study in a different country, the benefits you gain are worth facing that fear.

Let’s be honest, you will face some obstacles while you’re there, but that is where your problem-solving skills will come into play. I spent six months in South Korea where I did not know much of the language. My biggest challenges at first were learning to navigate the transportation system and how to order food. This is a struggle many exchange students face; being patient with yourself and giving yourself time to adapt to your new environment will help get you through those hard times. Now, you could place me anywhere in South Korea and I could find my way around easily.

You push yourself to find your way around and learn how to assimilate with the way things work. You learn how to rely on only yourself when you encountered difficult and challenging situations. Every day you can learn something new and become more confident about your abilities.

My favorite part of my time as an exchange student was learning about South Korean culture. If you have ever wanted to learn about a different culture, the best way is to live it. By studying abroad not only can you try tasty foods and see historic landmarks, but you can also take part in their traditions, learn about certain holidays and witness the lives of the locals. You can learn a different language, whether for fun or for career purposes. 

Hanbok dresses Seoul study abroad

Leslie Bueno and other exchange students visited Seoul's Gyeoungbokung Palace wearing “hanboks,” dresses that are worn for traditional events in South Korea. Photo provided.

Since America is a melting pot of diversity, companies are likely to invest in someone who has experienced multiple cultures. Employers will also see that you challenged yourself by adapting to a new environment. If you really enjoyed your stay, you might even consider trying to find a job in your study abroad country.

My semester abroad was a challenge, but one that has made me grow as a person in many ways. It was scary at first, but once you’re there and start making friends then those hardships become less intimidating.

Now I always think to myself, “If I managed to live in a country for six months where I barely knew their language, then I can do anything.”

I encourage students to check out the Education Abroad Fair held every semester. You can visit your college’s booth and explore what programs are being offered specifically for your major or simply walk around to see what other programs are available.