Reflection by Loyola junior, Brooke Amodei
If you looked only at social media posts panning across the multicolored row houses in Copenhagen, Florentine pizza that looks so fresh you can almost see the cheese still sizzling, or the Eiffel Tower twinkling in the darkness of night, you might assume that most Loyola students will travel abroad by a large margin. In actuality, according to the school, that number only comes out to about 60%, leaving 40% right here in Baltimore all 8 semesters. As it turns out, studying abroad is not a part of our core, and the decision whether or not to go is incredibly personal and requires a great deal of consideration no matter what choice you land on.
I have always known that studying abroad was not for me, but even I rethought my decision after hearing from those who came back from their travels “changed”, and after being a part of so many conversations as the only first year, then sophomore who was not taking that plunge. It was important to be open minded and welcome advice, but also to not allow myself to be pressured into a decision. I believe that there are 3 major factors to consider in the decision to study abroad, but there are certainly more depending on your circumstances. Three big concepts to consider could be your passion (or lack thereof), mental health, and finances. Some other considerations might be medical conditions/medication, on campus positions like work study or leadership, family circumstances, and athletic commitments.
I never felt passionate about traveling abroad in college when I had to take classes and travel with people I didn’t know, and so I didn’t want to work harder to commit to something I wasn’t all-in on. I have traveled around the country and to Canada throughout college (see other blog!), and I didn’t feel like I was missing out on a major, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Emily Hopkins, class of 2020, who traveled to Singapore in the spring of her junior year, said “I wanted to take advantage of the opportunity to go somewhere that I would never go under different circumstances. I always knew (I wanted to go abroad), and it was important for me when I was considering different colleges.” Don’t ignore your gut instinct and your interest level when making the decision. Often, that’ll be a great place to start when considering studying abroad.
Having lived with myself for 21 years, I also knew that traveling on a plane overseas somewhere unfamiliar with people I didn’t know would not bode well for me. I’m all for putting myself out of my comfort zone and challenge by choice, but I knew that the semester-long stint would adversely affect me more than help me grow. While on campus, I have found multiple other ways to challenge myself and broaden my horizons, such as starting and leading a club, exploring more of Baltimore, and occupying a work study position in a field that was not my specialty. On this topic, Emily said “Halfway through my sophomore year, I was ready to change up the daily routine at Loyola. I knew I’d be happier in a new situation where I had to push myself to make new friends and try new things.” Whether you’re ready for a big change, or confident that it might do more harm than good- you know yourself best when it comes to big decisions like this. Emily also gives the advice that if you’re in a tight financial situation, or aren’t looking to spend a lot of money abroad, to find a program that doesn’t require you to purchase a meal plan and where the housing might even be less expensive than living in Baltimore.
This is not an anti- or pro- study abroad post, but it is 100% a pro- “considering your decision personally and talking with people you trust and not automatically going because everybody else is” blog! Studying abroad is an incredible opportunity for Loyola students, and Emily and I agree that you should carefully consider if it’s a good fit! There’s truly no wrong decision if it’s right for you.