Written by: Valentina Oggioni, Margherita Ruffini, Chiara Calvez
Nowadays, our world is increasingly competitive. To have a place in this world, young people have to show they are better than others, and it has become essential for them to have experience abroad.
Despite this, it is not always that easy for a teenager to face this great challenge. Why? Teenagers are reluctant to leave their country, their families, their friends to adapt to a new country and culture. They may have problems with a foreign language, they may not be able to make new friends and they feel they will be homesick.
But they do not realise how important it is for them to try to get over these fears. Going abroad is not only an experience that could help you with your future job, but it shapes your personality by making you stronger.
In past centuries, people used to travel around the world to enhance their own personal culture. If they managed to do it when all they had were rickety little coaches, why can’t we do it now that planes can take us anywhere in a flash?
Why is it important to go abroad?
First, you understand the fallacy of STEREOTYPES AND PREJUDICES. For example, you may discover that Italians do not eat only pizza and that not all of them have a big black moustache. In fact, stereotypes may come from something that is true, but they are too exaggerated and become a parody of reality.
You also CHALLENGE YOURSELF.
By escaping from your “comfort zone” you might even risk enjoying it and having fun! From my experience, when I studied abroad as an exchange student for a semester, I cried twice: once when I landed in Florida, and again when I had to go back to Italy. Most of the teenagers that undertake this experience don’t want to come back. You DISCOVER YOURSELF. You discover that you can survive even without your lovely mummy and that you have your own personality. You are able to make the difference between what the others expect you to be and what you really are. You LEARN HOW OTHERS LIVE. By meeting foreign people and living among them you could find out that another culture suits you better than yours. Finally, you have a much greater chance of GETTING A JOB. In fact, 97% of people who have gone on erasmus find a job within a year after they get their degree. And if the truth were told, a little money is not so bad!
You have many more opportunities to travel abroad than you think!
– Are you a high school student? You can be hosted abroad by a family as an exchange student.
– Are you afraid of going on your own? Do an inter rail with your friends!
– You just graduated and you need time to understand what you want to study? Take a break and enjoy a gap year!
If you are already sure about what you want to study and you are in college, you could leave on an erasmus. In Italy alone this year over 41,000 students are expected to do it. And they are only 10% of the total number of European students that are going to do it!
If you want to have a nice experience and at the same time you are willing to help people who live in worse conditions than you, you could go volunteering abroad. A friend of mine did it in Sri Lanka and had a really good time, despite the fact that she was almost attacked by a herd of elephants!
“But I can’t afford to go abroad, it is too expensive for me.”
WRONG! If you want to earn some money and you are not afraid of being assaulted by a little child, you could work as an au pair girl.
As you see, there are so many opportunities to travel: you only have to choose.
What people don’t imagine when they leave for a foreign country is that they are going to appreciate little things of their own country they had always taken for granted. From my own experience, I used to criticise the fact that Italians talk too much, but when I went to Portugal I was shocked about how reserved Portuguese people are, and I wished they were a little more “Italian”.
All in all, before leaving our country, we think we know everything about the world. Actually, when you start travelling, you realise that you really didn’t know anything at all. You become more aware about your ignorance and, as a result, you are more willing to experience and to discover even more.
We are not only citizens of our country, we are citizens of the world and travelling is the best way to destroy the borders between us.