Art by Peau Porotesano
OK, serious talk, freshmen: I encourage you to start thinking about whether or not you want the international experience to be a part of your academic experience at Pepperdine. I just returned from a year of living abroad. I went to East Africa for a month last summer, Lausanne for the whole academic year, and London for two months this past summer. I have been outside of the country more this year than I have been in the United States — which is so astonishing and humbling to me.
I know, for me, I could not imagine going through this college experience without having studied abroad; my college experience would be completely different, that is for sure. Even though I have completed three international programs and am planning on embarking abroad next summer, I think there are a few important factors when choosing your own abroad experience.
1. Do not let other people (specifically your friends and even your family) influence where you study abroad. Choose the program to which you want to go — you are the one who is going to be living in the given international location, after all.
2. Do not give into rumors or stereotypes about specific programs. For example, there is a stereotype that “Buenos Aires students do not take showers, and they just camp and hike for days.” Buenos Aires is a modern city in South America that offers both the fresh city as well as the scenic, natural landscape life. Just because you see pictures depicting a program in a certain light does not mean that this is how the program truly is. Make sure you research each program thoroughly to determine which program is the right one for you.
3. Do your best not to enter abroad with expectations. This is where I have been guilty in the past. I entered abroad expecting to leave with certain gains and a specific mainframe because of what my older brother had experienced and told me about his time spent abroad. I left with a completely different experience from him — and, honestly, you will probably leave with a different experience than those with whom you are studying abroad. Experience abroad through your own lens and not someone else’s.
For more information, visit the International Programs Office located in the Tyler Center Campus and meet with the specific program ambassadors or check out the available academic year and summer study abroad options online on the International Programs webpage.
Whatever adventure you embark on, I can promise you that you will have an unforgettable experience. Embrace the change as it comes and know that wherever you choose to go, you will not leave unchanged.
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