Paradigm Shift

Paradigm Shift

When studying abroad, I don't think anyone is ever fully prepared for the experiences they will encounter.  In the weeks leading up to my departure, I planned for sharing my personal space; I planned for underseasoned meals; I planned (partially) for the exchange rate; and I planned for a culturally different environment - although, how different can it really be?  We share a common language.  In all of this, however, I did not prepare to be challenged.


I do not think that people often understand how living away from home and in a place that is unfamiliar will challenge you.  Your belief systems will be challenged.  Your mental and emotional strength will be challenged.  Your cultural understanding of the world will be challenged.  Studying/Interning abroad is not just about backpacking through a a cool country on the other side of the world or gaining international work experience.  Your time abroad will cause you to learn about yourself in a way that you won't be quite prepared for.  It may also cause a paradigm shift - a change in how you view the world.  Most often, you will hear these same expressions from someone who has visited an undeveloped or underdeveloped nation.  But, it is not impossible to have similar experiences in a nation you believe to be just like your own.


This is not to discourage anyone from taking this sort of risk.  In fact, it is an even greater reason to encourage all students who have an opportunity to study in a different nation.  Because it is this change in your world view that will shape the real you.  It will lead you to ask questions; to challenge normalcy; to dare to be different.  After all, aren't these some of the best qualities of a great leader?


I won't lie to you.  You will definitely miss home.  And since we are just past the halfway mark in the program, I can say that it is right around this moment when you start realizing all the little things about your "normal" life that you miss.  But what will be more interesting, will be to see what "my normal" becomes when I go back home.  Somehow, I don't believe it will be quite the same as it was on the day I left.

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