I chose to study abroad with IBS on the Winter One Europe Seminar because I wanted to attend a program where I would travel with strangers. With that being said, I went into this experience not knowing a single soul. To my surprise, this was one of the best decisions I have ever made. Yes, not knowing anyone can be scary at first, but one of the best parts of studying abroad is making new friends. During my two-week seminar, I made numerous friends from universities all over the country that I still speak with and visit today.
Meeting and traveling with a group of people I didn’t know was a life-changing experience.
When I first arrived, I was nervous everyone would already know one another and be cliquey, but that was not the case at all. The majority of people on the trip were in the same boat as me and those that did know someone were still looking to meet new people. During the two-week period, I constantly pushed myself to experience things with different people. This included sitting next to different people during company visits or during meals. I also did different activities with different people each day.
IBS is aware that being in a new place without a familiar face can be overwhelming, but they go above and beyond to make sure everyone has the best time possible. I loved that I had the opportunity to have a completely fresh start at meeting other people my age with no ties or previous encounters whatsoever.
In my opinion, when you sign up for something like this with a friend, you go into the experience knowing you are going to travel specifically by that person’s side. It can be fun to make new memories with that person, however, it tends to restrict you at the end of the day.
The first few hours of the trip were a bit uncomfortable.
But having those initial uncomfortable feelings helped me have the best study abroad experience possible. I was able to overcome those feelings by introducing myself to all of the other students and faculty on the trip.
When introducing myself I would often start by asking the person I was talking to “where they are from, if it was their first visiting Europe, or simply “how is your day going.” Starting a conversation can be awkward, but on a program like IBS everyone is looking to meet people and will be thankful you took the time to talk with them.
Being uncomfortable forces you to respect the other person and take into consideration they are not the same as you and may have different preferences.