To those who say traveling sounds fun, but it's just too expensive. To those who say I can't take time away from school. To those who say it's not safe enough to travel ... hear me out.
Those arguments can have some truth to them, but there's a much bigger side to see. There's a reason so many people say that their semester volunteering abroad forever changed their life.
Living abroad is just one adventure you need in your life
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Living abroad honestly can be one of the biggest impacts on your entire life. It definitely was for me, here's why.
You Really Live Life
Nothing instills a sense of adventure in you like living in a foreign country. You know that your time there is limited so there is a sense of urgency to do as much as you can. You learn to make the most of every moment. You learn to live life to the very fullest.
I mean, when else in your life do you carry a camera around all day? Only during a semester abroad because you're actively learning how to make the very most out of life and you want to remember those adventures, no matter how big or small. Even a walk around your neighborhood will be noteworthy.
You Figure Out Your Life
You need to take a second to figure out who you are. You just graduated high school and you've got big goals. College plans? Career plans? Mission plans? Marriage plans?
Those are all great, great things, but this is the time in your life where you are (as cheesy at is sounds) finding yourself. Don't you think taking 3 or 4 months to have an experience that helps you discover who you are by pushing you outside of your comfort zone and helps open your mind would be worth it before diving into those plans (college, marriage, etc)?
Brianna realized on her semester abroad that she wanted to change her major. Miranda decided on her semester abroad that she wanted to be a missionary for her church missionary. There's something about 3-4 months of living out of your comfort zone and serving others that puts things into perspective and helps you discover the direction you should take.
You can't afford to not learn and grow right before you are making these big life decisions.
You Learn You Can Do Hard Things
Living in another country is HARD. Like we mentioned, you're out of your comfort zone on a daily basis. If you don't speak the language, you'll become really comfortable with charades because you'll quickly realize how inconvenient it is to not be able to just say what you want.
Maybe the internet isn't as quick or reliable as you're used to. You might not always like the food (or know what you're eating). You might not love your roommate. You might not love making sure you have to be at the bus stop at exactly 8:47 AM or else you'll miss the bus to school and have to walk.
Giving up isn't going to be an easy option while you're living abroad. You get to learn how to deal with things. You learn how to be assertive and fix problems. You learn that wow, I should really be grateful for mom's home cooked dinner every night because I didn't realize how good I had it. You learn how to be a person who is a little more grateful, a little stronger, and a lot more patient — you'll come home and realize you life yourself better.
The list of ways a semester abroad changes you can go on and on, but we like how one past ILP volunteer put it:
"Volunteering with ILP was the best decision I've ever made. My experience was completely life-changing and not a day goes by that I don't miss living in this insane country. Thanks ILP for my changing my outlook on life and who I am as a person."
Living abroad is going to be a memory you'll never forget. For me, as cheesy as it sounds, it totally changed my life. Traveling makes you grateful, especially when you've been adventuring out of your comfort zone for a semester. It's exactly what you make it and it's almost impossible to understand until you have the experience yourself.
So take a second look at what's holding you back and decide if you can really afford to not spend a semester abroad, finding yourself, and having adventures that you'll never forget.
Ready to join us?
Start your application today and join us on trip abroad. We've got programs in countries all over the world where you can dive in and get a glimpse at how other cultures operate, get to see some major travel spots, and even get to contribute your talents through service.