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    Posted March 17, 2014 by
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    Why study abroad? Ask Michelle Obama

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    Studying abroad can come in different forms. Whether it is a short course of a few days as that of a study tour or weeks of learning a new language or a special course that takes an entire summer or semester or years that lead to an academic degree, the wealth that one amasses in these experiences has a value that cannot be quantified. These, however, come with a high price but thanks to scholarships and generous groups and individual, more students and even professionals are able to avail of such opportunities.


    I have been blessed to have experienced studying abroad, as a student, school administrator and scholar. And right now I am in the process of completing a course. There has been a variety in the studies I have done, from language courses to educational management, from profane to religious literature, in various places: Rome, Jerusalem, Angers, Hiroshima, Leiden, Berlin and Paris.


    I have been sent to study for the content that eventually leads to acquiring a degree or a certificate. However, more than this are the intangibles and benefits that I believe supersede the requirements of one's studies.


    Studying abroad is an immersion. One gets to know a new place that has its own language and culture, a different set of doing things, a different outlook of the world. One becomes more courageous, especially if one gets to travel alone and gets lost and asks for directions.


    Many times, as in my case, I often shared the experience with others who are also foreign to the place of study. There is a twofold affirmation: that humanity is the same but that it is expressed in diverse ways. One's mind becomes more open to how others think. One concludes: "I am not the center of the universe. I am unique but there are many, many others like me, individuals in this vast world."


    All these then lead to a paradigm shift. With experiences like this, we literally broaden our horizons.


    Our contemporary situation may perhaps be sufficient reason to diminish the necessity of moving out of our room in order to learn more of what is beyond our national borders. The internet takes us to the rest of the world in a few seconds. True. We have indeed become global citizens. However, the excitement of being there, the joy of meeting people face to face, the patience to bear the inconveniences, the efforts not just to know but to experience, not just to see and hear but to touch, to smell and to taste, in one word, immersion: this is what makes learning more valuable.


    And life is not the virtual but the real.


    (photos: 1) Jerusalem 2013; 2) Jerusalem 2012; 3) Rome 2001; 4) Rome 2002; 5) Angers 2003; 6) Hiroshima 2008; 7) Rome 2013; 8) Leiden 2013; 9) Berlin 2013; 10) Paris 2013

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