I never thought I´d leave Chico State with my most valued possession being my passport, but the places it has taken me and what I´ve learned have sincerely changed my life. Spring semester of my sophomore year came, and I was feeling stuck in a little rut. I had a great job, loved running on the track team, and had no major complaints about classes, but I needed to mix things up a bit. I marched on up to the Study Abroad office, bombarded them with questions, filled out some paperwork, and was on my way.
For all of you Chico State students who have never lived abroad, you´re missing out. I spent fall 2010 semester in Thailand, and I am currently enjoying my second study abroad experience this summer in Costa Rica. When I returned from Thailand I was hooked and wanted to be as involved as possible, so I became an intern in the Study Abroad office, where I got the opportunity to increase awareness of the study abroad options available at Chico State. Studying abroad is an invaluable experience; you will learn so much about yourself, your opportunities, and gain a more global perspective. You will experience a new culture with new foods, new language, different people with different beliefs—and you’ll have amazing adventures.
I know people have their reserves—it costs too much, you want to graduate on time, and so on. (I spent less on a semester in Thailand than I would have in Chico, and I’m still graduating in four years with a double major and minor, so I can personally promise that it is possible!) But no excuse is worth passing up on this experience that you can bring back to Chico and share with others. It increases your Chico Experience by instantly connecting you to the wonderful people in the Study Abroad office as well as all of the other students who have studied abroad. Not only that, but you will make lifelong friends in the process. I will forever have a couch that I can crash on in at least six other countries and amazing relationships with people all over the world.
While studying abroad I’ve learned languages, taken cooking classes, and experienced two amazing cultures. In Thailand I rode elephants, played with monkeys, shopped the busy outdoor markets, and had to close my eyes because the taxis drive so crazy. This summer in Costa Rica I’ve learned some Spanish, surfed, zip-lined, and lived with a host family who has been absolutely wonderful. I could go on for hours about what I’ve learned.
I’m here to let you know about the amazing study abroad opportunities that Chico State has to offer. No study abroad student I’ve ever talked to has regretted their decision to study abroad, but I’ve talked to countless graduates who look back and regret not doing so. College is a time of freedom before the real world to experience all that you can. I dare you to go up to the office and take the first step—just look at your options and consider the possibilities.