Once in A Lifetime Study Abroad Trip

American students studying abroad in Asia

A Once in A Lifetime Opportunity by Marlee King

I had just returned home from my first time studying abroad when the travel bug hit me. I started searching through my school’s global engagement website to find another great opportunity. When I found International Business Seminars and began to make the first steps, I had no reservations or second thoughts. Off the bat, I was able to see this trip for face value as a once in a lifetime opportunity.

I was searching for something to give me new experiences and knowledge, as well as making new friends. I had studied abroad once before and formed great relationships, so I was hoping to do the same thing on this trip.

It wasn’t until I started telling my friends and family about my plans when my nerves began to sink in. Many of my family members had their own ideas about the atmosphere and culture in Southeast Asia. These were mostly negative and scary for a young girl planning to travel alone. Although a lot of my feelings were discouraging, I still wanted to go.

I was very scared in my last few days in America because I was not sure what to expect in the next two weeks. I was overthinking every little detail of the trip, down to what shirt I should wear to the airport to make me stand out the least when I got out of the country.

Finally, December 30th came, and I boarded my first flight, to LA. On this plane, I met a few people who had been to Thailand, and one family that lived there. I was still very anxious, but the conversations I had with these people calmed my nerves a little bit.

Arriving in SE Asia

bangkok street at night

After a long day of traveling, I made it to Bangkok and met a couple of students in the program as well as the program leader. From this point, I was able to relax. I learned that these ideas that my family had, that were scaring me so bad, were not true at all. All my interactions with the locals were very positive, and from what I could tell, the locals had a lot of respect for others.

With all that being said, I think the thing that I learned that will stick with me the most is the fact that you don’t really know anything about another country’s culture until you have actually lived in it and experienced it first-hand. This, alone, is a lesson that I will find very worthwhile from this trip.

However, I am lucky that I have learned and experienced so much more than that in order to make this trip so great and truly unforgettable.

After my first time studying abroad, I already would have recommended all others to do so as well. This seminar just made me feel much stronger about my opinions. I am a firm believer that most learning comes when you are out of your comfort zone. Being out the country, to me, is the best way to push my comfort zone and get the best knowledge out of a short period of time. This seminar was very short, being less than two weeks long, but the amount of professional and personal growth that I have gained will certainly last a lifetime.

intel building in Vietnam

Making Professional Connections

Professionally, I have gained a great network of peers. In addition, I have gained a few connections that are located all around the world. Personally, I have made good life-long friendships. I also have gained confidence in myself to do things that I want to do, without much approval from others. This experience also gained me a lot of independence.

This seminar, I believe, has really set me up for success in my education as well as my career in the future. The way the staff set up the program was strategic and very well thought out. From the roommate arrangements to the guests we had the pleasure of meeting, to the company visits, the staff made sure that we had the best experience.

I am very thankful for JD, Dan, and the Hunt’s for making this trip unforgettable, and giving us recommendations of things to do that made this trip a real, once in a lifetime opportunity.

american students studying abroad in asia

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