Dear Danielle, my name is Hannah and I’ve just been accepted to The Intern Group’s Chicago program next year and I am so excited! I read your blog, “How to fund an internship abroad” a few weeks ago and have already started applying to scholarships and grants, so thank you for the resources. Even with this assistance, one can argue that travel is oftentimes a luxury that not many people can afford. I personally believe that travel is one of the best things to spend money on though. Why do you think it’s important to invest in experiences instead of materialistic things? I’m currently trying to talk to my family about this and appreciate any extra insights you have.
Dear Hannah, I’m so happy you found my scholarship and grant blog to be so helpful. As a former financial aid recipient at university, I completely agree that travel oftentimes is seen as something that only a certain demographic can enjoy. If it weren’t for my Pell Grant and international education scholarships, I wouldn’t have been able to afford to study abroad in university. As an international intern after that, I knew that it would also be a big financial commitment, but these six reasons to invest in experiences instead of things ultimately pushed me abroad again:
1. It forces you to have a better relationship with yourself
What better chance to self reflect than packing your bags to gain international internship experience in a country where you don’t know anyone? Being on your own abroad will teach you how to shape and chase your own dreams. It’ll teach you the importance of putting yourself first. You’ll learn that you’re capable of more than you once thought you were by pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone.
2. It develops your intercultural communication skills
From learning a new language, to understanding different cultural norms, taking the time to invest in experiences abroad will definitely enhance your ability to connect with people from different backgrounds. It’ll force you to be more outgoing as well, and to sometimes be the person to break the ice in a new setting, which might seem like a difficult task at first. Once you open your heart to people from different backgrounds, you’ll learn that you might have more in common than you think. You’d be surprised at how many international friendships will come from your time spent abroad.
3. It helps broaden your global perspective
By traveling to new places, connecting with people from different backgrounds, and gaining a better understanding of cultures and history, you’ll find that you understand the world better. We are all guilty of stereotyping, but the beautiful thing about travel is that it gives you the chance to break down your pre-existing stigmas. Just because something is different than what you’re accustomed to doesn’t mean it’s bad. This will be one of the most valuable lessons you’ll learn time and time again when you invest in experiences abroad.
4. It shows you how to be patient
Every country seems to be running on its own time. Some places are more fast paced, and others are slower than what you’re used to. You may have to wait in longer lines at grocery stores, or even wait for public transportation that doesn’t follow its schedule. It’ll teach you to be patient. It’ll teach you to slow down a little and appreciate the little things you otherwise might miss when you’re constantly living your life in fast forward, focused on your next move instead of enjoying the present.
5. It will make you appreciate the little things
I’m not talking about having consistent hot water in your shower, though that’s important too. By taking the time to invest in experiences, you gain a better appreciation for the little things, like nights spent camping under the stars, or weekend trips to the coast with your new international friends and coworkers. When abroad, make sure to make time to enjoy your life.
6. It gives you a lifetime of memories
Sure you can spend money on the newest phone, or go to Starbucks every day, but in the long run, will that truly make you happy? By going abroad, you get to see new places, push yourself to new levels, connect with people from all walks of life, and see some of the world’s most beautiful wonders. You’ll leave with memories from different places, with people who started out as strangers. Never underestimate the importance of a simple invitation to try something new. Your memories are underrated.
Photos by Danielle Ortiz-Geis