So, I’ve always liked astrology. Whether or not I know it’s completely accurate is a different story, but I’ve always found some comfort in reading about my star sign and thinking to myself, “Yeah, that sounds like me.”
I was born on May 17. This makes me a Taurus. Under this star sign, I am considered reliable, practical, patient, indulgent, stubborn and a lover of stability. That being said, I don’t like change. I’m pretty sure I never have and that statement is true to this day.
As an Earth sign, I like to be grounded. I like the familiar. The familiar and I get along well. I’m happy when things are stable, when I’m in my niche, when I am among people, places and things that I know and am comfortable with.
That being said, I’m studying abroad next semester. I am more or less going against my nature and putting my life in New York on hold to go study in France. I am living with a host family and I am a part of a program that incorporates no English whatsoever — all French, all the time. But that’s what I wanted, and that’s what I still want. I have wanted to study abroad since my freshman year. When I took my first French class freshman year, I decided France is where I wanted to go. I want to learn a language and better myself and my life.
A study from the Institute for the International Education of Students (IES Abroad) found that 97 percent of students said studying abroad “served as a catalyst for increased maturity,” 96 percent reported increased self-confidence and 95 percent said studying abroad had a lasting impact on their world view.
The University of California, Merced, reported that 97 percent of students who studied abroad found employment within 12 months of graduation, while only 49 percent of college graduates found employment within the same time period. Ninety percent of study abroad alumni were accepted to their first or second choice grad schools. Eighty percent of study abroad students based on these studies said their study abroad experiences allowed them to better adapt to diverse work environments.
When I received my first acceptance letter to my study abroad program, I was informed that I was a part of a small 5 percent of American students who choose to study abroad. I am glad that I am taking advantage of these opportunities that have presented themselves to me. And don’t get me wrong, I’ve been nervous and scared and have cried about leaving more than I’d like to admit, but I know that what I’ll experience over the next six months will benefit me in the long run.
A major reason I have been so anxious about leaving is because this semester has presented me with some of the best times of my life. I feel that I’ve found my niche. I have found my people. But ultimately, I am ever so grateful to actually have so many people that I know I will miss with my whole heart: my eight wonderful suite mates who I have endured this chaotic semester under the same roof with; my Oracle newsroom and Edge radio families who I spent many long, stressful, entertaining hours with; and my family back home on Long Island. All of these people have supported me in my decision to leave for the time being, but when I get back I know I will be able to pick up right where I left off.
Despite my stability-loving nature and my inherent stress and anxiety, I know that I will come back in six months a better person than the one typing this.
This story first appeared in The New Paltz Oracle on December 10, 2015.