Ayesha Ali, or just “Ali” is a blogger who’s proud to call Chicago, IL her home. Currently, Ali is a senior at DePaul University when she studies accounting and finance where she transferred after two years in community college. Normally, you can catch Ali at her university’s library with her face in a financial accounting book. When she’s not studying, she’s gaining knowledge and experience at her internship with elemento L2, an experiential marketing company in Chicago that works with big name clients like The Coca Cola Company, Target Inc, and Get Covered Illinois. Ali started her own blog, bealiveblog.com, in February 2014. Since then, she’s grossed over 200 readers, posted on Buzzfeed and Thought Catalog, and earned the title as Contributor blogger on up and coming blogging platform, Listicle.co. In her free time, Ali is a diehard Chicago Bears and Bulls Fan, avid concert goer, and amateur foodie. Ask her about transferring, landing an internship, and study tips. She’s sure to have a few tricks up her sleeve that she’s excited to show you.
Your time in college is unlike any other time in your life. You’re on your own for the first time, learning more about yourself than ever before. Within these four years, you experience a lot of ups, downs, and extensive personal growth, and that’s all just if you stay in the 50 states of the US! But what if you decide to spend some time outside the US, taking classes in a completely foreign land? That’s the reality for the many students that decide to study abroad. While living in a different country at any point in your life has it’s challenges, it also has it’s rewards. As an upperclassmen, I’m planning to study abroad in my last year of undergrad. The decision to go ahead with this wasn’t an easy one. Ultimately, it was a friend’s experience this past summer in Turkey that was the main influence in my decision.
My best friend had the incredible opportunity to work and study in 10 different Turkish cities for two months over the summer. She praises it as the best experience she’s ever had. According to her “It’s an experience everyone needs to have in their young years. You learn things about yourself and life that you won’t learn in the walls of your college classrooms” I asked her one day what were the most important things she took away from her time abroad. These were her answers:
• You need to be flexible. So many times in life, things are not going to go according to plan. You have to be open to trying something different and willing to a new experience. Studying abroad forces you to be flexible and try new things. When in Roman, do as the Romans do! (or Rather, when in Turkey do as the Turkish do!)
• Try different foods and learn the language. Going to a different country is a perfect opportunity to broaden your palette and vocabulary. One of the biggest challenges while living in a different country is learning how to communicate and interact with people on a daily basis. In order to thrive and make the most out of your experience, you need to adjust to their customs and languages. Remember that you’re a guest in this country and you have to be respectful. Majority of these restaurant and business owners won’t understand you when you try to speak, so you’ll have to improvise. Learning a few key phrases while your there makes a difference and makes the experience even more gratifying.
• Studying abroad is about exploring the country, but really finding yourself. You may find yourself lost in these big cities from time to time, but you’ll leave this experience having found out more about yourself than you ever knew before. You’re forced into these new situations and have to learn how to react. Many times, you’re in these situations for the first time. They’re not easy, but you learn about who you are once they’re over. All of the experiences I had in Turkey, I’ll be able to apply in my life back in Chicago and in the future as an adult.
All in all, studying abroad is an experience of a lifetime. You make strong bonds with the people that you go, you’re put into situations you never thought you’d be in and above all else you leave a little more connect to the world and yourself. As college students, we spend so much time learning the material for all our classes we forget to learn about the world. We spend so much time learning how to make a living that we forget to learn how to live. We forget to go outside our comfort zone and we forget to take risks and just to have fun sometimes. Studying abroad gives us the options to live a little, while also continuing to study. It’s the best of both worlds.
So, if you’re looking for a once in a lifetime experience where you’ll learn things that you can’t find in a textbook, talk to your school’s advisor about the requirements for studying abroad. I’ve made my decision to spend some time abroad this summer and I already know it’ll be the best decision of my undergrad career. I hope you feel the same.