Study abroad to cross the bridge
to a life-changing experience
By Els Kerst
Isn’t it funny how one plane ticket and a very important document called a “visa” can change your whole world? A 12-hour trip across the Atlantic Ocean brought me to a very different culture. My home country was behind me and I entered a new part of my life.
I am fortunate to be in an international exchange program this semester at Texas State University. I am from the Netherlands, a small country with 17 million inhabitants located in northwestern Europe. I’m studying European Studies and majoring in International Business. My experience so far at Texas State has been nothing but good.
While I was thinking about my experiences in the United States, a lecture from one of my professors in the Netherlands came to my mind. The subject was “Building Bridges is Essential for Internationalization.” Think about it: Bridges are important in our lives. They take us from points A to B. They connect places. They connect people. Moreover, bridges are needed to cross cultural gaps.
When you move to a different culture, you stand at the beginning of an enormous bridge. Bridging a cultural gap between your familiar culture and that of another culture — of Texas culture, in my case — can be very challenging. However, it’s part of a great, adventurous experience.
In my opinion, adjusting to American culture is a challenge — everybody speaking English, American dollars, taxes that are not mentioned on the given price tags, free drink refills in restaurants and American football games, not to mention the fact that San Marcos reaches some high temperatures every now and then. Many foreign students experience a similar scenario. Fortunately, the International Office offers resources that help foreign students adapt to their new lives at Texas State. The transition is a lot easier when someone helps you cross that cultural bridge.
Likewise, the Study Abroad Office can help Texas State students cross the bridge to another culture outside the U.S. If you missed Texas State’s Study Abroad Fair, visit the Study Abroad Office, located in the Thornton International House at 344 W. Woods St. on campus, to learn about studying abroad.
Have you ever considered studying abroad, but wondered if it’s worth it? I think I speak on behalf of all international students when I say that studying abroad is a life-changing experience. If you ask me, I’d say it’s the best way of skipping town for several months!