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Developing Beyond the Classroom; Taking the Step Out of Your Comfort Zone

Having lived in three different countries for more than a couple of years, I have gotten through many of the challenges of resettling. However, in the end, I’ve learned so much more than I could ever have done without all these experiences. Although there were humps to get over, my years in the U.S,. and my Bachelor’s degree in Denmark, gave me the tools I needed to not be afraid of pushing myself into something new.

Getting out of your comfort zone might be one of the most important things to gain from going abroad. At least this was the case for me. I actually want to start the story from the years I spent in the U.S. with the perspective of starting my university years abroad... in Denmark. I spent only the first five years of my life in Denmark, moving first to Sweden, and eventually the U.S. After having moved around quite a bit, I felt prepared when I had to make the move back to Denmark, however, it still wasn’t the easiest of feats. That said, I still am here to say that taking your education abroad, or at least a semester abroad, just might be one of the best things you can do for your future and yourself.

My initial experience abroad
I moved to the U.S. at the end of Swedish eighth grade, jumping straight into sophomore year of high school. Although I was excited to get started at my new school, it was definitely tough getting used to the education system, expectations, and standards of the new country. I know quite a lot of people whose grades would take a hit during semesters abroad or during their first year of a degree abroad, and I will admit that I definitely could have done better if I had been more informed. Luckily, this is where communities such as NSAC can help out. Understanding the differences and norms of a new educational culture can be quite difficult to get a hang of by yourself, however taking the time to talk to someone who has been through it will be well worth the effort. Still there will always be some challenges of settling in to a new place and getting used to the things you do need to learn yourself.

Why it was worth it
I definitely struggled through some of my first classes at the Technical University of Denmark but I quickly learned that my time abroad had giving my quite the edge in other areas. I had a much broader perspective than many of my peers and my toolbox of problem-solving methods was definitely more varied than most. I didn’t notice myself picking up the things I did while studying abroad but I honestly cannot stress enough how glad I am that I now have all these tools to utilize throughout the remaining years of my degree and going further into my professional life. Although I was thrown way out of my comfort zone, it forced me to develop in different ways and much quicker than I had been able to if I had not been pushed. I can honestly admit that my experiences of going abroad have been some of the most important factors of growing as an individual. Sure it was difficult at times and maybe even scary, but make your research and get involved with people ahead of your time abroad and you will get just as much out of it without facing the same struggles of others. And even if you do end up finding it difficult, trust me that it will be well worth the challenge once you get over that initial hump.

Written by Kristoffer Michelsen

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