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    Posted March 15, 2014 by
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    Why study abroad? Ask Michelle Obama

    I dream of traveling far and wide

    I chose to study abroad to prove that that if you have a desire to travel and experience life in another country, there is nothing that should stop you from doing so. Growing up, I dreamed about studying abroad. Being able to live and learn in another country both excited and terrified me. But, coming from a socioeconomically disadvantaged family, that existed only as a distant dream. As I entered college and started pursuing a degree in STEM, studying abroad became the least of my priorities. My sophomore year as I flipped through an old journal, I identified the hopes and ambitions of a younger me. What was stopping me from pursuing studying abroad? And so I did and my goal now is to encourage other students to do the same.

    There are so many grants and scholarships available through both your school and national organizations. Share your dream and ambitions with them, work hard on convincing them, and it will be possible.

    Studying abroad doesn't hinder your education, especially if you're a STEM student. It can be quite the opposite. In our globalized society, science is universal. It is helpful to learn the techniques and environment of how science is conducted abroad and just as important to form relationships with laboratories and doctors abroad. It is through international partnerships that some of the greatest innovations have been discovered. It is through international partnerships that ideas and hopes have been developed into global quests for a cure or new scientific breakthrough.

    Don't let fear of the unknown stop you. Yes, you will be homesick occasionally, especially for your mom's homemade goodies or that Tex-Mex food that was always available at your fingertips. Sometimes you can taste the Haas avocados in your mouth from craving it so much. But, it's worth it. It's worth it for the new memories that you develop and new people that you meet. You'll meet people who you automatically connect to for some strange reason. You'll learn to hunt down street signs and ask for directions when you need to. You'll learn that sometimes that being alone is't all that bad. You'll learn to trust your instincts and to be far more independent. How else can you navigate in a foreign country?

    And as cliche as it sounds, you do grow as an individual. You're forced to leave behind the comfortable mold that you have created for yourself and step foot into unknown territory. You're forced to take off those rose tinted glasses and see for yourself what the world is like. For the lucky (or should I say unlucky) ones, you'll hear and see for yourself how the policies of the United States affect not only us here in this country but others across the world. Maybe then it's time to brush up on news. To the joy of your parents, you also have to budget your money, some of us doing so for the first time. Now that itself is an eyeopener!
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