Departing from the comfort of campus and embarking on a journey to distant and unknown territory can be just as terrifying as it is rewarding. For many students, the college experience simply is not complete without traveling abroad. Whether for mission oriented trips or study abroad programs, students have several opportunities for travel. Here are a few ideas to consider before, during, and after the journey.
Before departing for your expedition, preparation is crucial. Of course there are numerous practical considerations that demand attention. From passports, finances, international communication, figuring out how and what to pack for the duration of your trip, etc. nervousness and apprehension can quickly creep into your mind. Ease the tension and eliminate a few “what if..?” questions by establishing a back up course of action if any of your important items are lost or stolen. Remember, the beauty of university-organized travel is that you are not alone in this endeavor. You have a built in community of people who are all in the same position.
Then, get excited! Research the location(s) you will be traveling, the history, language, culture, food, particular sites you may see, etc. Having this prior knowledge will not only pump you up for the adventure, but will also enhance your enjoyment abroad.
One of the most rewarding aspects of any experience abroad is the opportunity to form new connections with people and places that would have otherwise been unknown. While traveling, be presently aware that you are making memories that will undoubtedly remain with you for a lifetime. Keep a journal and write daily, even if it’s a quick note or a ticket stub shoved in-between pages.
Depending on your location, communication back home may be limited. Although this factor may at times be stressful, use the time to focus on where you are and those who surround you instead. When you allow yourself the freedom to fully immerse yourself into the entire experience, the rewards are boundless.
Following your return home, take time to reflect on your experience abroad. Every aspect, both positive and negative contributes to the knowledge gained. What did you learn about places you visited? Has your global perspective been changed, or affirmed? What have you learned about yourself? It may take several months after being back home to truly digest and realize the weight of the journey. Remember the journal you kept? Read through it, adding new thoughts, feelings, and realizations as you process them.The University of Mary Hardin-Baylor offers opportunities to explore destinations including, Panama, Costa Rica, Israel, Ecuador, France, England, Germany and Morocco. Each adventure abroad provides students the platform to grow academically and spiritually. For more information about UMHB’s study abroad program, we encourage you to visit our website.