By Tyler Wall, Learning Abroad peer advisor, marketing major
Reality hit hard as I sat alone in the Salt Lake International Airport with nothing but my passport and a backpack. I had never traveled independently at all, let alone for three months. I was beginning to regret my decision to learn abroad before it had even started. Looking back now, it was undoubtedly the best decision I’ve ever made.
I remember on the first day of orientation for my semester-long program in Sydney, Australia. Our leader said, “If you open your mind and make an effort to broaden your perspective, this culture will offer you more than you ever thought was possible.” With this mindset, I was amazed at the experiences I was able to take part in during my time abroad, from exploring the Parliament Building for my Australian Government course, to diving in the Great Barrier Reef. However, when I reflect on my time there, I realize the experiences that impacted me most were the interactions with people, whether I was connecting with locals or building friendships. I felt myself becoming more independent and confident in my decisions and those are two things for which I could not be more grateful.
I may not remember every lecture I listened to or every meal I enjoyed, but am instead left with a culmination of experiences that changed who I was for the better. I truly found my best self when I decided to step outside of my comfort zone and embrace the overwhelming and exciting experience of learning abroad.
University of Utah students receive many benefits by learning abroad, both inside and outside the classroom. Learning Abroad offers over 500 programs in more than 50 countries worldwide, allowing all students the opportunity to find a program that fits their personal, professional and academic goals.
The Global U Expo on Sept. 20 is a great place for students to start their search. At the expo, future and returned Learning Abroad students can survey all of the programs and international opportunities available. All U students can enter a drawing for a chance to win a frame backpack or a Learning Abroad scholarship. In addition, students who attend the expo can interact with faculty directors, returned students and exchange students to get firsthand advice and information.
The Global U Expo will be held in the Union Ballroom from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. on Sept. 20.