To go abroad or not to go abroad?

By Hannah Bucklin

Over the past two weeks my Facebook newsfeed has been overwhelmed by statuses of people being accepted into study abroad programs for next fall. Madrid, Australia, New Zealand, Florence… I have seen it all.

I almost wanted to make my own status, “accepted to attend USD next fall!”

While I am happy for my fellow classmates and close friends, I can’t help but wonder: why leave San Diego when most people are only here for four years? Am I really missing out on something by staying here?

I find San Diego to be the ideal location. It’s perfect weather is why people say, “we live where you spring break.”

I don’t see any reason to leave.

Having a British mother, I have gone to Europe more times than most people will in their lifetime. I am almost positive that I have seen all the castles, museums and monuments that England has to offer. So, why would I need to go abroad?

I feel as though I have learned enough going to England and that I am a pretty cultured person. When I have been in England with my family, I have obviously had the ultimate access to all of Europe. I have been able to go to Wales and France while in Europe, so is it really necessary for me to pack up for five months and go abroad?

It is true that the idea of spending five months with friends roaming around Europe or some other country is very appealing. Whilst I have been abroad, I have done so with my family.
I’m sure everyone can agree that traveling with your family is extremely different from traveling with your friends.

With friends, you can go to a pub or try out a new discoteca.

You can really get the feel of how students in other countries live and what they do in their free time. When I travel with my parents, we tend to do more family-orientated activities that can ultimately hinder my overall experience.

When you are with your friends, it is easy to be yourself and enjoy your surroundings. However, I must not overlook that studying abroad is not just above having a good social life: the purpose of studying abroad is to learn a lot about other cultures and about myself.

Living in a foreign country forces you to recognize how tolerant and understanding you are of different people. It makes you confront your prejudices and hopefully you will return from your study abroad experience more tolerant and open minded.

So the question of whether or not I am missing out by staying in San Diego is still unanswered.

I may not be able to surf in Australia, go to Oktoberfest or see the Great Wall of China, but I find peace that at the end of the day I can return to my house on the beach and look out my window to see the ocean. Pacific Beach is definitely not New Zealand, but it is my home and the place where I want to be.

I find comfort in knowing that even though I won’t be studying abroad, San Diego is a place I call home.

Going abroad is a truly special experience, one that I have been fortunate enough to have.

However, not everyone has had the chance. Studying abroad for a semester is one of the few chances that many of my friends will get to go somewhere new and experience a new culture.

Whether it’s a summer vacation with your parents, a trip with friends, SYE your sophomore year or for a semester I highly suggest traveling abroad and experiencing something new.