Why Studying Abroad is Good for You
Written by Sydney May 15, 2017
As college students, we sure engage in a lot of behavior that is less than ideal for our still developing minds and bodies. We live off more caffeinated drinks than we do hours of sleep, are quick to get pizza and wings delivered to the library as a midnight snack, and drown ourselves in social media to procrastinate. These behaviors aside, it can be easy to fall into a deep slump; especially when midterms hit, or when a holiday break is right around the corner. But what if I told you that studying abroad is good for you? Studying abroad might just be the change of pace you’ve been looking for to grow your perspective and recharge your battery at the same time.
First off, to sell you on this, let’s talk legit health benefits that accompany studying abroad. Aside from all the amenities that CIMBA offers such as a gym, soccer fields, and basketball courts that your home university probably has, the Italian Alps are CIMBA’s neighbor and home to some pretty awesome trails for hiking and running to get your exercise in a more scenic way.
The CIMBA program also heavily promotes the importance of travel (and gives you plenty of time to do so!) which has been scientifically proven to promote heart health. According to an experiment by the Framingham Heart Study with data spanning from 1948 to now, women who traveled at least twice a year were eight times less likely to develop heart disease than women who traveled only once every six years. And as someone who kept accidentally walking 10+ miles every day while traveling, I can certainly see why.
While there are times when you will be stressed about catching your flight, or your paper due next week, studying abroad will give you a break from your monotonous routine, which is proven to decrease stress levels. A study by the Arizona Department of Health and Human Services found that three days after traveling (and for the five weeks following travel), travelers felt more well-rested and in higher spirits. An increased quality of life can quickly lead to an increase in work performance, meaning you are also ready to tenaciously take on the studying aspect of studying abroad.
The CIMBA program also offers courses like the Leadership Institute for Excellence (LIFE) and daily mindfulness sessions, which teach you how to manage your stress in a healthy way. These programs are brief, but with long-lasting effects, with LIFE lasting two and a half days and mindfulness lasting 15 minutes each day.
But aside from health benefits like good heart health or reduced stress hormones, studying abroad is good for your psyche. In simple terms, studying abroad makes you happy. It keeps your mind sharp and develops your perspectives in regards to how you relate and contribute to the world around you. As Mark Twain once said, “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.”
While abroad, you will have dozens of introspective, breathtaking moments where you feel closer to the world around you. Some of mine were standing in the center of Theatre Dionysus in Athens, praying in St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, placing pebbles in the shoes that line the Danube Bank in Budapest, visiting the massive La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, or climbing the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, just to name a few. These authentic moments made me take a deeper look at myself, yet they also enveloped me into the global community; and not in the way that we claim being gluttonous partakers in social media does. But I assure you when you do post your cute, candid, smiling/laughing pictures on your instagram, they definitely will not be staged.
Studying abroad has allowed me grow a new, complex layer that wasn’t there just three months ago. This layer is composed of cultural understanding, problem solving skills, independence, adventurousness, and the desire to continue to learn. I feel that I have become a better version of myself, and I absolutely have studying abroad to thank for that. So, 12 weeks, 9 countries, 25 cities, and hundreds of miles later, and with high spirits, a recharged battery, and memories to last a lifetime, I’m ready to take on the next adventure; no matter what that might be.