I want to start by saying I don’t think I’m a shy person; however, I wouldn’t call myself an extrovert either. I enjoy my alone time and being by myself. I like being an observer from the sidelines. I was comfortable in my Louisiana bubble and the biggest “leap” I planned on taking was to move one state over to Texas. If you relate to me in any of these ways (even just a little bit), STUDY ABROAD. After my study abroad experience with IBS, I’m taking real leaps outside of my bubble to explore the world and become who I want to be.
It’s easy to live in our bubbles that we have created for ourselves, but how can we grow when we limit ourselves to such a small space? Most of the time I didn’t even realize that I was confined to my bubble. I always traveled across the United States with my family, but I had never traveled more than a state away without them. On December 27th, 2016 I flew to London, United Kingdom. By myself. Knowing no one, on the IBS Winter One 2017 trip.
Flying out of the country for the first time, knowing no one I was going to be traveling with for the next 14 days threw me outside of my comfortable Louisiana bubble. It was the best decision I have ever made. Yes, it’s scary but I’m so proud of myself and love all of the lifelong friends I made along the way.
The first night out in London we took the Tube to Piccadilly Circus, which is in the West End with endless entertainment. Walking down the streets in Piccadilly Circus reminded us of Time Square in New York with neon advertising signs, and also reminded me of New Orleans which feels like home for me. We went to the first bar that we saw called “The Zoo”. We danced and got to know each other while experiencing the night life and culture of London’s youth. Instead of letting myself be a bystander, I involved myself in conversation with as many people as I could. Our GroupMe for the remainder of the trip was named, “The Zoo Crew.” I learned so much from students all across the US and even at my own university, LSU. Studying abroad gave me the confidence to build new friendships on this trip, we still hang out now that we’re back in the US.
The picture above was our first group picture abroad. I can easily say this night is one of my favorites of my study abroad experience, looking at it now I can’t stop smiling. Studying abroad with new groups of people creates networking connections valuable for your future, not to mention the memories and inside jokes you share with this tight knit group of new friends.
No matter who you are, whether it’s the introvert or the extrovert, studying abroad gives you limitless opportunities to grow as a person and, for me, as a business woman. These opportunities are continuing to pay off for me even over a month later back in the United States. I’m an Alumni Ambassador for IBS, which has connected me with professors on my campus and opened more doors for me to study abroad again in the future during my Masters program. I hope you choose to study abroad and break your bubble, I know you won’t regret it.