Not all were study abroad programs, but all were opportunities at a life overseas that I seized when I was a university student. I knew that chances like those wouldn’t come around too often. 

I was 19 years old when I left the States to go for a semester overseas in Florence, Italy. I remember sitting in the car beside my father as we drove to the airport. My stomach felt like it was competing in the Olympics, doing all sorts of flips and twists and acrobatics. I wanted him to turn the car around and bring me home. 

Yet here I am in Australia, six years, 31 countries and four continents later fueled by this incurable addiction to explore the world, all because I boarded that plane to Italy back in 2007. 

Studying abroad isn’t for everyone, and that’s fine; however, there are plenty of options out there to experience life overseas through your university coursework. Students can take an entire a year to do it, or they can take a single semester. Schools also offer eight-week summer courses, internships or even a holiday course for those who just want a small taste of life abroad. 

There’s a world of knowledge that you can’t learn inside the classroom, so here’s a few reasons why I think everyone should consider the opportunity to study abroad:

Because you can: It’s that simple. At no other point will you so easily have the opportunity – or better yet – the excuse to temporarily move your life to the other side of the world. 

Meeting new people: Again, it sounds so simple, but it’s true. You meet people from around the world, whether it’s through your program, or in your daily life. 

Cultural immersion: There’s different degrees of immersion, which depends on where you go and what kind of person you are. Nonetheless, studying abroad gives you the freedom to explore a culture on a more personal, in-depth level than what you’d get on a holiday or backpacking trip. There’s so much more to a country than its food or its language. There’s a system of beliefs, traditions and customs interlaced with everyday life that studying abroad allows you to experience firsthand. 

Travel: This is solidly the best reason, and accessibility is dependent upon where you go. I chose to study abroad in Western Europe, and travelling from Italy to Germany is as easy as traveling from New York to New Jersey – and it’s a way better weekend trip. Australia offers just as many opportunities for travel and exploration all within one country. Study abroad is your ticket to see the world, and it paves the way for you to fall in love with travelling.

Challenging yourself: Chances are, nothing about your study abroad will be familiar to you. It’s a huge step outside of your comfort zone, whether it’s by moving to a country with an unfamiliar language, trying to break out of your introverted ways, expanding your taste buds, going to the supermarket, listening to new ideas, getting from Point A to Point B in one piece, learning how to cope without your family and friends  — life abroad is about overcoming a unique set of challenges you wouldn’t face otherwise. 

Nothing changes: And I mean nothing. Everyone and everything stays the same. Your hometown, your friends and your family will be where you left them. People still go about the same routines, go out to the same places, complain about the same things and gossip about the same people. At the end of the day, everything will stay the same, but you’ll be the one who’s changed. 

My last few words of wisdom: You’ll meet far more people who regret not going abroad than those who did. There’s no experience like it, so don’t wait. Go and enjoy it, and trust me, you’ll never look back.