You should travel while studying abroad

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You should travel while studying abroad

By Sidney Madden, Longform Editor and Assistant Features Editor

Once upon a time, I had a brief stint as an RA in a dorm with predominantly international students. From my residents, I learned about other countries and cultures. I learned about different customs and cuisines. But above all else, I learned the value of traveling.

After breaks and long weekends, residents would excitedly share the new places they had been and new experiences they had had. 

Of course, this isn’t realistic for everyone. International student tuition is exorbitantly high at the University — and is only going up — and can be twice that of in-state students. But for those who have the means to travel, please do. 

Champaign certainly has its gems, but you can use your study abroad as an opportunity to check destinations off your bucket list and garner more experiences. 

You can plan plenty of weekend trips to nearby cities and attractions, but there are other offbeat opportunities to travel in and out of the state, too. Some RSOs go on outdoor excursions. Other intramural and club teams travel locally and regionally for competitions and tournaments. University Housing hosts alternative spring breaks where students have furthered their social justice education. The Technology Entrepreneurship Center offers a Silicon Valley Entrepreneurship workshop over winter break that takes a select group of students to the Bay Area for a week of networking and learning from startups. Some classes even have field experiences — one political science course has students study and travel to national parks in a semester. 

Campus can feel like a bubble. It’s easy to forget about the outside world when you’re so immersed in the academic and social aspects of college life. Traveling not only bursts that narrow bubble but actually widens your definition and understanding of the world. Wherever you go, you’ll likely learn something new about a place or even yourself. 

That’s not to say you should feel an urgency to travel every weekend or even that often. International students can be here for a semester or several years depending on their course of study and program length. If you have the time and resources, it can be a rewarding opportunity. 

The U.S. is big and the world is wide. I encourage you to try Southern BBQ. See an ocean. Escape the frigid cold; you’ll thank me later. While the land of corn is kind, exploration and travel can help with your own self-growth and enrichment. 

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