11 Things I Realized When I Studied Abroad.
1. THERE IS BEAUTY IN LEARNING ABOUT DIFFERENT CULTURES.
I don't know what it is, but learning about the things that are both similar and different to your culture is simply amazing. Being culturally adaptable is very important to working and interacting with different kinds of people. The truth of the matter is, not everyone you meet and surround yourself is going to be like you. And if they are, well, you're kind of doing yourself a disservice. Why? Because when you learn about others and their culture, it makes it easier to be able to relate and understand them. This is very helpful in IE or really just any business one may go into (or just simply life). How can you help and be relatable if you don't have the knowledge base and don't understand the other person's point of view? You can't.
2. SOMETIMES YOU HAVE TO PUT YOUR PHONE DOWN AND ENJOY THE MOMENT.
Okay people when I say that sometimes you have to put your phone down, thats how you know you should really put your phone down. Some may say that I'm "addicted" to my phone, but I think I just have a great appreciation for the beautiful work of the Apple, Snapchat and Instagram masterminds. Simple. In all seriousness though guys, I do think that for experiences like this its better to live in the moment. Don't get me wrong, its a-okay to snap a few pics here and there (if I didn't there wouldn't be any pics for this blog post LOL). But as much as I love the snap, it has the tendency of taking you away from whats going on around you. Who knows, maybe if you look up from your phone you might have a random convo with your future foreign lover. ;)
3. WE TAKE SO MUCH FOR GRANTED.
Its kind of self explanatory. The little things we take for granted like clean water and an amazing Public Health system just really stuck out to me during my trip. We weren't allowed to drink the tap water (or even brush our teeth with it for that matter.) The thought of brushing my teeth with bottled water never crossed my mind until I had to do it. It made me realize how lucky we are for just the things we think are so simple.
4. YOU'LL COME KNOWING NO ONE AND LEAVE WITH 15 NEW BFFS.
There's nothing like going to a place that you've never been before with people that you didn't know existed 3 weeks before you left for your trip. The people I met through this program both from Purdue and from Medellin and Cartagena were absolutely incredible. Its crazy to think that I literally didn't even know these people existed and in 2 week I formed some great friendships. The moments and experiences we shared are something that I will never forget, and I wouldn't have wanted to experience it with any other group of people.
5. TRY SOMETHING NEW.
I'm not a coffee person, like at all. The taste makes me cringe no matter how much hazelnut creamer and sugar I pour into it. I'm a 100000% die hard Lipton English Tea lover, and I'm not mad about it. Knowing how much I hate coffee, I decided that there's no better place than Colombia that could possibly reverse my feelings to the dark, yellow teeth causing drink. I had high hopes because the last time I tried to be adventurous with coffee was about a year and a half ago, so I thought maybe just maybe this time would be different. Welp, it wasn't and I still am not a fan of coffee.
I shared that crazy story to say, when you travel, try something new or that you'd never think of trying in a million years. Just one thing. Who knows, maybe you'll like it (or maybe you won't). But you know what they say: "You'll never know until you try."
6. YOU'RE there to learn.
Even though it was the most amazing experience of my life and was super fun -- I went to Colombia for school, so it wasn't all fun and games. This trip was with the Purdue IE school and Nursing school and we studied the Public Health Systems in both Cartagena and Medellin -- I pinky promise. ;) We lived by the motto work SUPER hard, play hard (aka the part you might have gotten glimpses of on insta and snap). Yes, everything is so pretty but you don't just go abroad for the pretty instagram pictures, and the foreign snapchat geofilters, you go to learn.
7. THE WORLD IS FILLED WITH SO MANY GENUINELY KIND PEOPLE.
This one is pretty simple. No matter how much craziness happens in this world, I know that there are still so many amazing people, and luck for me I got to encounter some of them during my time in Colombia. The students that we met were so hospitable and caring it was so comforting.
8. NO, I DIDN'T GET STOPPED BY DRUG CARTELS AND NO, I DIDN'T GET ZIKA.
Stereotypes suck. Simple. I wish I recorded the face and reaction of the majority of people I told I was going to Colombia. First, they would ask if I had ever been to New York (then I'd have to tell them I was going to Colombia the country not the Columbia the university.) This was typically followed by a look of worry because they thought Colombia was super dangerous and filled with drug dealers (then I'd have to explain that 1. I'm not going by myself and 2. It's way safer now than it was in the 90s). After I convinced them that I would be safe, I also had to tell them that I wouldn't contract zika. I am happy to inform you all that after cans of the deet and drenching my clothes in permetherine, I don't have zika.
9. ITS COLOMBIA NOT COLUMBIA.
I cannot tell a lie, I was guilty of this. However, I did in fact go to Colombia the country in South America and not the school in New York. It's easy to mix up, I get that because I did the same. But now you know the correct spelling so never mess up again. :) I kind of take it as a personal offense so please get it right. Spell it with me: C-O-L-O-M-B-I-A.
Enjoy the moment. Don't let someone or things back home dull your experience or take away from this once in a life time opportunity. Be happy, enjoy being abroad and just relax. Every night after all of your activities, lay in bed or on top of the rooftop and write about your experiences. Just relax.
11. I HAVE BEEN SELF DIAGNOSED WITH HAVING THE TRAVEL BUG.
Its real people. How do I know? I know because I have it.