How Studying Abroad has Made me who I am Today


I don’t know a lot of things, but I do know that I would not be the person I am today if I had not packed up my life in under a month and moved across the continent.

My experience studying abroad began when I was 13. I moved to Switzerland and, for a year, attended a school with 500 other students from over 130 nationalities. Studying abroad helped me mature a lot faster than most 13-year-olds; I learned better interpersonal skills and communication, I learned new languages, how to live without my parents, take care of myself, I learned about new cultures, new places, and how to navigate completely unknown places by myself.

I missed my family a lot. I assume any 13-year-old does when they are thousands of miles away from home, but my friends became my family.

When my year abroad was over and I was back home, I realized that living abroad was something I wanted to do with my life, staying home was not an option anymore, so when the opportunity to move to Vancouver came knocking on my door, I took it.  I packed up my whole life in under a month, said goodbye to my close friends and family and left everything behind. That was the best decision I have ever made.

When I arrived, I rented a room in a house with five other people. My roommates were from four different nationalities and they all had their lives already established in Vancouver. During my first few days, I settled down, unpacked and, after much thought and fear of leaving the house, wandered into the city. It was rainy and, to be honest, quite lonely. Not knowing anyone was difficult and I wondered if I had made a mistake.

Eventually, I made wonderful friends at school, my roommates became my family and I learned to cook some amazing meals that I never would have even tried back home. When I lived at home with my parents, even the laundry seemed super complicated. So, when I arrived in Vancouver I had to swallow my pride and ask one of my roommates to teach me. As it turns out, doing laundry is pretty easy!

Moving away helped me to get rid of the stereotypes and ideals I had grown up with, which gave me the chance to really explore who I want to be, and what I really want from life. Don’t get me wrong, like most people in their early 20’s, I am still figuring it out, but living abroad has definitely helped. Upon walking down the path of self-discovery, I grew up emotionally and intellectually. I opened my mind to new opportunities and goals and opened my heart to people I never expected to meet.

Some of my friends back home think I am insane for moving to another country by myself, they say they would be scared to even think about being alone in such a vulnerable situation.

If you think you would be scared too, I encourage you to take the first crazy opportunity that presents to you and just do it. I promise you will not regret it.

Julia Verea

Discussion3 Comments

  1. You write well, I enjoyed reading it!
    I completely agree with you that studying abroad teaches a lot. Being self-reliant is one of the qualities you get when you study in another city or another country. And this is very good because it is an important quality that helps you succeed in life. I admire that at the age of 13 you were not afraid to try to be self-reliant.
    And of course, abroad you get new emotions, new knowledge, new acquaintances, broaden your horizons. It definitely changes a person.

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