By: Cynthia Chiou, Foster Undergraduate
My time at WHU and Germany will be four months I will treasure for a lifetime. Studying abroad may not have turned me into a complete different person, but I can certainly say that it has made me a stronger and more clear-minded individual.
One of the most valuable things I will take away, is understanding how crucial keeping an open mind is in our journey through life. From the first day to the last; cultivating relationships, understanding new cultures, and ultimately having an unforgettable experience, were owed to refraining from any presumptions I might have had about anyone. What made my time so unique was being surrounded by a community that was enthusiastic and genuinely excited to hear each other’s perspectives.
You would think having conversations with non-native English speakers would limit my interactions, but to the contrary, I had some of the best discussions with exchange students. The excitement we shared and willingness to withhold any judgment allowed us to have some of the greatest memories. Granted that studying abroad probably bolsters your confidence in social situations, I realized this environment didn’t just have to be created when you’re off abroad. This miniature epiphany might sound extremely obvious to some of you; sure, it makes sense that someone would be more accepting and open minded when they are abroad – there is less at stake, you’re in a foreign country, and you’ll make a grand exit in just four months. But the entire time, I couldn’t help notice how wonderful it was to be surrounded by such passionate individuals. I wanted to bring this same mindset back with me. Whether it be within my career, school work, or creative processes, being in an encouraging community helps you achieve a different level of performance. Risks you used to be hesitant about or ideas you had rolling around in the back of your mind can now surface and begin to develop.
So in many ways, studying abroad has been a necessary experience that has allowed me to appreciate the subtle but important value of community. I needed to venture into a different setting only to realize core values that should be applied regardless of wherever you are in the world. Taking all the things I’ve learned, I’m ready and excited to challenge myself further each day!
If you’re still considering studying abroad, I can’t vouch enough for the experience – especially at WHU. All in all, you really won’t have any regrets!!