Study abroad: jet-lagged or jet-inspired?

By James-Brandon S. Christoper

Every year many Toreros choose to study abroad in various locations around the world. This is so common at USD that we have been able to be ranked #1 in study abroad participation for the last two years, according to US News and World Report. While every Torero has had a completely unique abroad experience, they all agree on one thing: studying abroad has changed their lives.

For some students, the opportunity to study abroad allows them to reflect on how they lead their own personal lives, allowing them to make changes as they see fit. Senior, Sean Ricucci, studied abroad in Paris, France for the summer. After being there and observing how Parisians conducted themselves, he decided that adopting a similar lifestyle is what he wanted. That lifestyle would be constructed around a greater appreciation of life’s simple pleasures.

“It was eye opening,” Ricucci says. “The way that they take time to enjoy life and the things that are around them rather than dedicating all their time to work was something different.”

In America, we tend to have a problem with stressing over deadlines and trying to get as much done as possible. This leads to continually bringing work home and pulling all nighters. However, this isn’t always conducive to success, as there is only so much one can do in twenty-four hours.

“I think there is a maximum amount of time that you can work on something in a day, and then you need to go and enjoy yourself,” Ricucci said.

Other Toreros were able to take their experience and channel it toward an understanding and appreciation of different cultures and lifestyles. Senior, Lindsay Butcher, spent a semester in Florence, Italy where she fell deeper in love with different perspectives.

“I now come to class and I think about things from a more global perspective, as opposed to only what is happening here in San Diego,” Butcher said. “ I am currently taking an international media course where my experiences abroad have proven very beneficial in understanding various perspectives from cultures around the world that we are reading about.”

Being able to experience and witness the values and customs of different countries can prove beneficial academically, as well as socially. When individuals are able to experience different cultures from all around the world, they can approach everything else in their lives and think about them from multiple perspectives. These skills can be extremely beneficial in situations where problem solving and critical thinking are involved.

You do not have to leave the country in order to have a life-changing “abroad” experience. I spent a summer in Cambridge, Mass. while taking an economics course at Harvard University. During this eight-week summer semester, I learned what being a Harvard student was all about. Harvard students work very hard and then go out and play harder. One thing I noticed about them is that they do most things with an end-goal in mind. This attention to the end-goal is different than simply working hard, and hoping that it will pay off. It is a much more objective-oriented method. This “work smarter, not harder” approach to life still resonates with me, and I now do everything with an objective in mind. This attitude has made me more efficient and successful in most things that I take on, and I am forever thankful for that opportunity.

If ever presented with the opportunity, students should always choose to study abroad. Talk to any group of students who have studied abroad and they will give you example after example of how individuals have greatly been able to increase their self-worth and perspective. Their lives have been positively impacted as a direct result of their study abroad experience. Some people may be hesitant, for they may be unsure of how to fund this chance of a lifetime; but rest assured, the Study Abroad office has many solutions that will help individuals achieve their goals of being able to travel and study.

Even if you have not studied abroad, you should definitely remember three things: stop and smell (or Instagram) the roses, attempt to find a way to think about things from a more global perspective and find ways to make new observations on a path to being your best self. Bon Voyage!