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ISEP Student Stories: Natalie Explores the Benefits of Study Abroad

July 1, 2016

It’s International Education Week, “an opportunity to celebrate the benefits of international education and exchange worldwide” run by the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Department of Education. Northern Arizona University student and ISEP Ambassador Natalie F is embracing IEW’s mission by highlighting the benefits of her study abroad at Aix-Marseille Université.

Happy International Education Week!

This week is a great opportunity to spread the awesomeness that is studying abroad so I thought I’d write a special post to let y’all know everything that my semester abroad has done to benefit me!

Friendship: While abroad, I formed long-lasting relationships with so many other international students and travelers! Making friends while traveling is as easy as a simple “Want to go sightseeing with me?” I now have a network that spans the globe and I wouldn’t it trade it for the world.

Making friends while traveling is as easy as a simple “Want to go sightseeing with me?”

After searching for over two hours, my fellow students and I finally made it to our Riad in Fez, Morocco (I still have no idea how we figured it out)! This is us on the roof, overlooking the Medina.
After searching for over two hours, my fellow students and I finally made it to our Riad in Fez, Morocco (I still have no idea how we figured it out)! This is us on the roof, overlooking the Medina.

After searching for over two hours, my fellow students and I finally made it to our Riad in Fez, Morocco (I still have no idea how we figured it out)! This is us on the roof, overlooking the Medina. Confidence: After my semester abroad, I know I can handle just about anything that comes my way. I can navigate the Moroccan medina, I can order dinner in languages I don’t understand (sometimes it’s more fun when you have no idea what you’re ordering!), I can deal with banks, consulates, and doctors in another language, and I have no problem roaming Paris alone without a plan or a map. I never would have thought I was capable of these things before going abroad and after having handled them all with little problems (okay, there were more than a few hiccups but it was all part of the learning experience). I now know that the sky is my limit!

Cultural Awareness: While abroad, I met and interacted with people from a multitude of cultures and many of them turned out to be great friends. That’s not to say that ironing out cultural differences was a daily challenge. I gained a better understanding of many world cultures and, perhaps more importantly, I gained a brand new perspective on my own culture through the eyes of the rest of the world.

I gained a better understanding of many world cultures and, perhaps more importantly, I gained a brand new perspective on my own culture through the eyes of the rest of the world.

Language Skills: This one seems pretty obvious, duh: I studied French. But there’s more to it than just knowing the language. Being able to use French with the people I met gave me an automatic “in” when it came to building friendships and negotiating my way through day-to-day life. I was able to learn so much more from the French because they were at ease speaking their own language with me.

These are just a few of the benefits I received from my experience but there are countless more that will undoubtedly continue to benefit me for the rest of my life. On that note: GO ABROAD. All of you. Do it now. Literally, email your ISEP advisor right now.

Thanks Natalie! To read more about Natalie’s study abroad in France read her personal blog, Fergs Goes French. Want to learn more about International Education Week? Check out one of their official videos “International Education is for Everyone” below, or follow the hashtags #IEW2013 and #IEW on Twitter.

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