When I was a student I chose to travel abroad as part of an international student exchange program. I wanted to study in London, but I had to choose between Denmark, Netherlands and Norway, much to my disappointment. I chose Netherlands, but I was sad at the thought of having to live in a cold, rainy country for the next semester.
When the time came, I found myself in a foreign country, not being able to speak the local language. In the next months I was going to discover an amazing country, make friends with students from all around the world and learn important life lessons.
Traveling is easy
When I first found out about the opportunity to travel to another country as part of the international student exchange program I was sad to leave my family and friends behind. In the weeks before I left I cried a lot at the thought of being away for a long time. But, when you board the plane, everything fades out. You still miss your family, but after couple of days the reality of life abroad settles in. you make new friends, discover new flavors and new fun things to do. And you study, in my case.
Traveling alone is not frightening
Being alone in a foreign country can be scary. We are all capable of traveling alone, but until we do it, we see this as mission impossible. In the first couple of days after I arrived in Amsterdam I never ventured far from my new home. But as time went by, I started to wander further away. One day I even went outside the city, to check out the surroundings. This boosted my confidence and gave me the courage to travel alone. Looking back, I now understand those days were critical for my development. The moment I left the city on my bike was the moment I became independent, I became a traveler.
Traveling helps you understand yourself better
When I arrived in Netherlands it was a warm, sunny day, but I also experienced really bad weather during my stay. Being inside, alone, I was able to think about what I really want. Away from all the social pressure of my family and friends, I discovered my true desires. I understood that I want to travel, to see the world and experience different cultures.
I understood that I hated economy and I loved history. That was a bit late, I admit, but I doubt I would have been that honest with myself back home, where my parents were eager to see me an accomplished accountant. Traveling helped me get in touch with myself and it was a mind-blowing experience.