I just finished my freshman year at Western Kentucky University, located in Bowling Green, Kentucky in which I have declared three majors in international affairs, Arabic, and Spanish.
Before going abroad, I took the time to evaluate my goals and intentions. This is so important before traveling abroad. I knew that I wanted to learn as much Arabic as could this summer so I knew I would be focused on my studies. I also decided beforehand that I wanted to network with the people I met so they could help me reach my goals in the future. I knew I wanted to travel, and I knew I wanted to make really great friendships with other students studying Arabic so when we go back to the US, I will be able to practice my Arabic with friends.
I have tried to keep these goals in mind and at the center of my experience while I have been abroad by allowing everything to become a learning experience. At times it has been hard, and I have let them slip for the sake of more fun activities that do not require a textbook or lots of brainpower. However overall, I have stuck to these goals with the help of my professor, friends, and host family.
Nevertheless, some of my peers who have studied abroad did not have any clear goals in mind. This hindered their personal and academic growth. They had to figure out what they wanted from their program after it began, and if they had taken a bit of time to evaluate their intentions before embarking on their journey, they could have experienced exponential, invaluable growth.
So if you are planning to study abroad, I urge you to consider your intentions and goals. You are the only one who can make sure you’re meeting them and getting the most out of your study abroad experience.