Studying Abroad: The World is Your Adventure


(Photo by Thomas "💯™️" Reenberg)

Kyle Kissinger, Assistant Lifestyles Editor

I vividly remember the first time I toured UNC Wilmington’s campus and how much studying abroad was emphasized by my tour guide. At the time, I never thought that traveling to another country for school would ever be something that I would be interested in doing. 

Two years and 17 hours of flights later, that changed when I spent a month in England over the summer. Studying abroad was a personal challenge for me as at that point I had never left the country before, let alone been on an airplane. Learning how to navigate an airport for the first time—which may be second nature to some—was not a fun task while alone and on international flights. However, this led to one of the cooler experiences in my life.

Nothing can describe the feeling of dread I had flying into a London airport after a sleepless night on the plane, thanks to the constant cries of a baby, only to find that my phone would refuse to connect to WiFi and my debit card was being declined by the ticket machines for the Underground.

On my connecting flight to Dublin, I discovered that the woman beside me would also be on my flight from Dublin to London. She was my saving grace to help me power through the airport. When my card was declined for the second time, I ushered her to go on her way because I did not want to keep her from her own travels.

She went on her way, and I finally discovered an ATM that accepted my card after roughly thirty minutes. On my way back into the Underground, I ran back into her. She told me that she had traveled either three or four stops on the Underground and decided to come back for me as she couldn’t live with the fact she just left an American who had absolutely no idea what he was doing alone with no access to money or WiFi.

This was the defining moment for me for when I realized that studying abroad was going to be life-changing (and it was). She had no responsibility to come back, but the fact that she did was a powerful act of kindness and meant a lot to me. I do not remember this woman’s name and will never see her again, but this interaction reaffirmed my belief that there is still good in the world.

Occurrences like these are why I believe why studying abroad is important if you are able. Alfie Jackson, Study Abroad Coordinator at the University of Hertfordshire—the university I attended in England—believes “it is important because there is truly no greater challenge than living in a foreign country. It provides so many life lessons and so many more opportunities than you would find at home.”

While abroad I was able to immerse myself in another culture and gain perspective of how other countries view the United States. I was able to try new things, meet new people and create memories that will stick with me for the rest of my life.

If you are a student and have an interest in studying abroad, visit UNCW’s Education Abroad page for more information on programs and potential scholarship opportunities.