Once you decide to take the plunge and choose to study abroad, the easy decision is made. Next, comes what I think is the hardest decision you might ever make in regards to study abroad: What country do you want to study in? At Illinois State, there are many places you can choose to study. You have a choice between places in North America, Europe, Central and South America, Asia and the Pacific. The decision may also depend on your major. Some major programs are only offered in certain countries. But for most, you will have optimum choices; in some cases, too many choices.
I was one of those individuals plagued by too many countries to choose from. When I first applied, I was convinced I wanted to go to England. Unfortunately, the program in England was not the right one for me based on the classes I needed to take. So, I began to consider the possibilities of other countries. I am Irish, so one place I was interested in was Ireland. I also wondered what it would be like to live in Australia for six months. My safe choice was Ireland. It is less than ten hours to Ireland by plane, so I would be far away but not too far away. Also, I would have the opportunity to travel all around Europe. Australia, on the other hand, is halfway across the world. It was the farthest I could be from my home. But Australia is so exotic. I wondered if I would ever have the opportunity to travel there in my adult life. It would be a once-in-a-lifetime experience to live “down under” with a “no worries” attitude. This was a lot to consider.
You can probably guess I chose to study abroad in Australia. I chose it for a few reasons. One, because I figured I would never have the opportunity or the money to go on my own later. Traveling as a student can be much cheaper. I will one day travel to Europe, but getting there is much easier than getting to Australia. Also, traveling to the other side of the world is quite a challenge. The flight was 16 hours. I have traveled a lot, but always with my family. So I wanted to test and challenge myself. I knew I could go halfway across the world and still thrive on my own. Ultimately, I am glad I made this choice. I would have regretted it if I had not gone there.
When making this type of decision, you have to stick to what makes you comfortable. Most of us know that challenging ourselves once and awhile can be good for us. So, finding that balance is a good thing to focus on. Additionally, consider all possibilities presented to you and set goals for yourself. What interests you? Have you ever dreamed of traveling to or living in a certain country? Do not just go where your friends are going or to the most popular program the study abroad office offers. Do not limit yourself. Make this decision for you. That is what I did. I would not trade my experience and my memories for the world. It is the best decision I have made so far. I have no regrets.