By Christian Yosef
Elm Staff Writer
Chestertown is a great community, filled with fantastic restaurants and very kind people. However, you should give yourself the opportunity to explore beyond this county and go forth into the world.
A lot of American students don’t embark on this amazing adventure, as CNN reports only 1% of students study abroad. This needs to change, because studying abroad has numerous benefits.
You have the chance to discover a country’s unique culture and learn more about their history. I studied in Istanbul during the fall semester, and I was fortunate in learning about Turkey’s past, in addition to eating their cuisine and visiting some iconic monuments such as the Hagia Sophia. It was built in the 6th century by the Byzantine Empire in order to serve as a Christian church. It later got converted into a mosque by the Ottoman Empire in 1453, and is now a museum. It was such a thrill walking through history and seeing people of all backgrounds coming together to appreciate this work of art.
Traveling allows you to see a new perspective on life. I lived in a three bedroom apartment while studying in Istanbul, and I made friends with people from Morocco, Switzerland, and Syria. The conversations I had with my Syrian friend were particularly interesting because he happened to be a refugee. He told me stories of the war in Syria, his encounters with ISIS, adjusting to life in Turkey, and his hopes of moving to Germany. These discussions allowed me to see how resilient Syrian refugees are, in addition to helping me realize how privileged I am in being able to live in peace in the United States.
Studying abroad can also assist you in launching your career after college. In fact, Erasmus Student Network reported that 64% of employers consider international experience important for recruitment, while 92% of employers look for transferable skills, such as problem-solving, decision-making, and confidence, which can be gained from study abroad. Living in Turkey last semester definitely helped me enhance my confidence and problem-solving skills. I was able to learn a foreign language in order to communicate with Turkish people, in addition to adapting to Turkey’s education system and surviving on my own in a foreign country.
Other Washington College students have also enjoyed their study abroad experiences. Senior Ethan Hu, who studied in Paris last semester, spoke about the key reason on why he enjoyed France.
“There are no words to describe European culture,” he said. “French culture and French people are so unique. I met some of my closest friends in France because their culture values friendship, honesty and compassion. I can’t wait to see them soon.”
Senior Nick Blake studied abroad in China during the fall semester of 2018. He talked about why it is important for WC students to study abroad for at least one semester.
“Being able to experience different ways of learning and living firsthand is a once in a lifetime opportunity,” he said. I understand the hesitation about studying abroad, everybody is.