10 Things I Learned (Thanks To Studying Abroad) By Age 22

10 things I’m glad I learned by age 22 while studying abroad Part 1

Street meat became a staple while I was traveling

I’m pretty adamant about the fact that most of what you take away from studying abroad isn’t learned in the classroom.  Some of it consists of life lessons, maybe new self-confidence, personal realizations, or just general observations and opinions about the world.  Although this had the possibility to be very cliche, I tried to keep as real and down to Earth as possible. Inspired by the post, 8 Things I Wish I Knew When I Was 22, here’s the first half of 10 Things I Learned By Age 22.

1. Money isn’t everything, but it is something:

My dentist says “Whoever said money can’t buy happiness was shopping at the wrong store”. We all know the “money can’t buy happiness” phrase he was referring to. Here’s my “happy medium” stance. It’s true, the value of money is determined by the amount of importance you place on it, but I’m not afraid to say I want to get a fat paycheck when I’m older.

I hope one day I’m wealthy enough to go back to the places I visited on my travels, and eating the best food and staying in the most expensive hotels. However, what will always be more important to me are those days I spent as an in-debt college student trekking through the cities of Europe with a very thin wallet, and the nights I spent in budget hostels playing made up drinking games with that random 6th roommate (who once happened to be a female Swedish blond).

2. Travel is not as hard as people make it out to be:

The only reason travel can be expensive is because people believe the definition of travel is a lavish vacation. If this is your mindset, you’ll always be sucked into the fancy ads promoting first class flights, luxury hotels, and thousand dollar suitcase sets. I learned that if you travel with the goal of experiencing the world, you’ll realize that money can’t hold you back and traveling on a budget is not only possible but actually easy. 

If you want to see how I was able to explore cities like Paris, Rome, and London for under $300 a piece (including flight and hostel), check out my Kindle eBook “The Ultimate Study Abroad Guide”. Just an aside to cover myself, if you decide on a whim to fly to Paris for lunch and plan on flying out that same night, that can be expensive. The key to budget travel is planning and prep.

Go from needing road maps to needing World maps

3. I’m much more independent than I ever imagined:

When I was 16, I used to get lost while driving one town over from Manchester, and only made it home because I could call someone for directions. 5 years later, I spent an entire academic year studying abroad in a country all the way across the Atlantic, traveled all over Europe by car, train and plane, and interacted with people from every walk of life…all without my mother on speed dial (for the most part) and the creature comforts of home.

4. Language isn’t a barrier – Language is more of an obstacle:

Not knowing a language should never prevent you from traveling to a certain place. Words are not the only form of communication, and when you overcome that obstacle, your travels become that much more fulfilling.  On a more realistic note, just about everywhere I went, the majority of people could speak English. I did learn a few key words (like hello, goodbye, please and thank you) in the native language before every trip, as I found that people are much more receptive when they know you’re at least trying.

5. I was (still am) eager to see the entire world, but I neglected my own backyard:

Studying abroad helped show me that the world is a beautiful place, and I want nothing more than to spend the rest of my life exploring and experiencing everything it has to offer. I realized while traveling to and learning about new places, however, that I had never put that much effort into learning about my own home, the place I have lived for the past 21 or so years (New Hampshire). Luckily, this is an easy problem to remedy, and I have been working on it continuously since I returned from abroad.  Call me patriotic, but I think this is actually a pretty common realization.

I’m stopping at #5 so your eyes can take a rest. Don’t worry, the second half of what I learned from studying abroad will be here shortly.

In the meantime, what are some things you learned about or hope to learn about while studying abroad?

If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to leave them below and I’ll get back to you!

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