Four weeks ago, I took the daring step of traveling alone to Lille, France. When I departed for this journey, I knew only one student in my entire program. In the beginning, it was tough – being almost completely alone in a country that doesn’t speak English can be a little intimidating. As I talked with other students in my program, this train of thought seemed to be in the front of everyone’s mind. It’s easy to think you will go through the entire experience without any friends, but it’s important to remember that every student studying abroad feels the same way. Everyone wants to make friends just as much as you; no one wants to be in a foreign country alone! That’s why the study abroad environment cultivates friendships.
As I near the end of my study abroad experience, I know those friendships I have formed will continue. Study abroad has given me the opportunity to meet people from all over the world. Whether they are from India, China, France, or the Middle East, friendship is a cultural similarity that we all share. Even if you both can barely speak each other’s languages, friendship has a weird way of forming over small connections. This happened to me a couple weeks ago when I was watching the France versus Switzerland soccer game during the Union of European Football Association championship. A passion for soccer is what allowed us to become great friends. Even though we could only say the simplest of words, somehow we could understand what the others were saying.
Now, knowing what I know about this awesome experience, I would urge all students to study abroad as soon as you can. It will forever change your perspective on the world. So go ahead, take that step out of your comfort zone, make lifelong friends, and try to speak a language that you barely know. It will require courage, but you will forever be grateful that you did it!
University of Tulsa ‘18
Lille, France Summer 2016