Taking the leap, leaving the country

Questions arise surrounding whether or not study abroad will happen this fall



Italy has always been a popular destination for Wake Forest sudents interested in visiting the heart of Europe. Both Venice and Florence boast the finest in dining and art. Florence and Venice boast the finest in food and art.

Micah Porter, Life Editor

There comes a time during the course of a student’s college experience when they must make a decision: either to spread their wings and take flight on the adventure of a lifetime, or remain on campus to experience the full extent of traditional college. For those who have made the choice to study abroad, the benefits provide a seemingly endless supply of knowledge and life experience. From Argentina to Zimbabwe, the Wake Forest Study Abroad office offers assistance with studying in virtually any desired location, and will go to great lengths to find suitable programs outside of the scope of Wake Forest, if the program isn’t offered through the university.

With over sixty percent of Wake Forest students engaging in a study abroad experience before graduating, it can be argued that immersing oneself in a foreign culture remains a common goal for many Wake Forest students. However, with the emergence of COVID-19, significant precaution has been placed on international travel, posing a great risk for those wishing to take their studies abroad next Fall.

Since Spring study abroad opportunities are being postponed due to the virus, hope still remains for the Summer and Fall programs. With this in mind, it will be critical for students interested in studying abroad to consider whether or not this decision to voyage overseas is worth it. Still, it is important to consider what an experience like this will provide — starting with the obvious:

1)  See the World

The opportunity to live in a new country is not only a chance to act as ridiculously crazy and insanely as possible without the threat of repercussions, but offers insight into an entirely different way of living. From learning to harvest tea in China to riding a double-decker in London, the students who study abroad have the unique chance to witness new terrains, natural wonders, museums and historic landmarks. Not to mention that many study abroad destinations, particularly in Europe, are mere train rides away from neighboring countries, allowing for even more travel opportunities.

2) Build an Education

With many students having spent the entirety of their formative years in the United States, studying abroad can mean exposure to entirely new philosophies, political views, traditions and social atmospheres. While these ideas may sound foreign at first, holding an awareness of the opinions and understandings of a new people group can both reinforce wisdom and instill a sense of understanding and humility in one’s life.

3) Improve Language Skill

As the Wake Forest language requirement demands near fluency, studying abroad can provide just the amount of exposure to a foreign language for a student to cross that fluency threshold. Not only are study abroad students required to pursue language studies while abroad, but the process of immersing oneself in a new culture can consequently result in the picking up, or improvement, of an additional tongue.

4) Grow Career Opportunities

Partaking in a study abroad experience conveys to future employers a willingness to experience a new environment, as well as an awareness of a culture beyond the scope of the United States. Oftentimes, a student who falls in love with the country in which they study chooses to return after graduation. Having previously experienced what said county is like, increases ones likelihood of receiving a job offer there.

5) Develop New Passions

Studying abroad opens the door for spontaneity, and forces students to put everything on the line and live an unapologetically adventurous lifestyle; this can often result in the discovery of new talents and hobbies. The United States is home to many of the world’s most traditional hobbies, which is another way of saying most boring hobbies. But few students have ever attempted line-dancing in Ireland, or knife making in a brooding Romanian castle. Who knows what skills are out there waiting to be tapped into?

6) Make Lifelong Friends

This goes without saying, but the people you travel with will, without a doubt, become some of your closest friends. At least for the time you’re abroad together, the friends you make — college students and locals alike — will stand as a support system during times of difficulty and homesickness. Not to mention you will be spending virtually every waking moment together and growing in friendship is a byproduct of that. Additionally, students courageous enough to reach out and befriend the locals, these students often find themselves invited into homes, or on a private tour of the city. In most cases, locals take advantage of any opportunity to meet and talk with American tourists, and can also provide immeasurable assistance if the language barrier is severe.

7) Gain Life Experience

Perhaps the most important benefit on this list, what better time to experience the world than right now? Eventually, all Wake Forest students will move on with their lives; move away from the confines of campus and begin the next chapter of finding a job and career. Take advantage of this opportunity to simply study and learn about the world.