The view from the window of my flight to Port-au-Prince, Haiti was a sight to behold. As we descended upon Toussaint L’Ouverture International Airport, the rugged yet majestic mountains juxtaposed by crystal blue waters of the Caribbean Sea were just what I needed to feast my eyes on.
Upon exiting the airport, sounds of Haitian Creole and French filled the air heightening my enthusiasm for what would surely be a perspective-enhancing and life-enriching experience. Without a doubt, I was beaming with excitement.
Once you have begun to indulge in the joy of exploring the global community you realize just how much you stand to gain in visiting each new destination. Ancient Chinese philosopher, Lao Tzu, perhaps sum up my sentiments best with his celebrated ideal that, “a journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.”
Students have a unique opportunity to see the world via study abroad programs. The impact of traveling abroad and connecting with others of varying backgrounds is one valued by academic institutions. I am not being facetious when I say my breath is often taken away by the resources that colleges and universities provide in their quest to offer quality international educational opportunities.
If you are a student interested in studying abroad here is how to get started:
- Attend a study abroad orientation/introduction at your institution. Attending these events will give you insight into the process and the opportunities available, specifically, at your institution.
- Consider which regions you would like to study in, as you want to be happy with the surrounding environment and culture during your time abroad. Consult with friends and professors who may have traveled there before.
- Consider your courses. Know which regions offer the classes you’ll need to complete during the time you’ll be abroad.
- Talk to your counselor and make sure you meet the eligibility requirements.
- Apply for your desired program and research/determine funding options.
Let me assure you that as a student you CAN afford to travel. Your college will have information on the scholarships and grants available to support students. Also contact any honor societies or community groups you are a member of, as they may also provide funding support.
If you are an undergraduate or graduate student apply for your passport, research available opportunities and embark upon what is sure to be the adventure of a lifetime.
While I did not study abroad during undergrad, I often look back and wish I had. Hence, my passion for motivating young men and women to embrace Global Citizenship and undertake every opportunity to see the world NOW! My recent volunteer trip to Haiti was not my first international expedition; in fact it would serve as my fifteenth and I can attest to the growth that takes place with each new passport stamp received.
Whether it be studying, working, living, volunteering, or traveling abroad that best fits your current lot in life, know that you can only stand to reap immense rewards when stepping beyond your comfort zone. Indeed, “traveling is one of the finest educations you can give yourself” and in today’s global society none of us can afford to be un-educated. What are YOU waiting for? The WORLD is YOURS!
Give HOPE. Live HOPE.
About the Author
Jabari Smith, is a Global Citizen and motivational speaker, committed to uplifting and inspiring lives across the globe. An esteemed Howard University alum, his “Jabari Inspires” brand and business is focused on empowering others to step beyond their comfort zone to uncover innate passions, skills, talents and interests. Follow his journey of INSPIRATION at www.JabarInspires.com or @jabarinspires.
*The photos featured in this post are from Jabari’s many international travel adventures.