Mapping The Outbreak

Universities across the world began screening students for symptoms of a bug going around every campus.

They’re calling it… the travel bug.

The side effects are a painless, wonderful, adventurous, freeing desire to be totally immersed and wanderlust in a different culture and country.

If you experience these symptoms, you are urged to immediately contact your study abroad office for further information on how and where you should go to cure this highly contagious bug.

I personally am a victim of having the travel bug and have been sent to the United Kingdom and Australia for treatment.

Although it’s been four years since my diagnosis, I am still showing strong signs of being bitten by the travel bug.

While growing up, I traveled quit a bit throughout the United States, but I never really had the thought of experiencing something new, beyond our borders. I was always the one that wanted to stick to my comfort zone and the one that would never be caught doing something out of the ordinary.

This all changed when I saw the opportunities I could take while at Texas Tech.

As a freshman, I randomly decided to attend a study abroad seminar my college was hosting about a two-week trip to the United Kingdom. Man, am I sure glad I did that!

From there, I have been fortunate enough to expand my travel resume with a semester in Australia, and the urge to travel through Europe.

My first diagnosis began when I leaped across the big, blue pond and landed in London. I traveled through England and Scotland, getting to visit amazing and esteemed companies like, BBC and The Scottish Farmer, along with visiting the Royal Ag College, Stonehenge, and Buckingham Palace.

After returning to reality, it happened again…

This time, I was in for an even bigger bite by the travel bug, which led to an even bigger adventure.

Study abroad for a whole semester? Well duh.

Australia? WHY, YES, OF COURSE! I can attempt a fake Australian accent…

After months of preparation and assistance from my college and study abroad advisor, I had my passport in hand and was off, to leap across a WAY bigger pond.

Twenty-one hours later, I had finally arrived!

Although I was thrown completely out of my element, it forced me to explore my beautiful new home, make new friends, and get involved with my new Uni.

Getting the opportunity to constantly be around Australians gave me the chance to dive head first into another culture and completely submerge myself in every aspect of it. I attended school with them, lived with them, and traveled with them. I got to drive on the wrong side of the road and car, while traveling down the Great Ocean Road, eat a true Australian meal… kangaroo, take 1,345 steps up the Sydney Harbour Bridge, and attend a footy game (Australian football – a bunch of guys running around playing hacky sack with a thing that looks like a football). Most importantly, I got be a local tourist and see the world from a different perspective.

I wish I could relive every moment of my time in Oz, because that was by far the most amazing experience that I could ever dream of.

Statistics show that those who have studied abroad have improved their GPAs, found themselves more valuable in the job market, have a higher starting salary, and have improved their personality traits.

They say, “we travel not to escape life, but for life not to escape us”. I began my travels because I saw an opportunity to be different and do something out of the norm. With that, came self-realization, appreciation, and surprisingly enough, comfort.

From my personal experience, here are a few benefits that I have found to be true:

  1. If it’s in a country where the predominant language isn’t English, it’s the best way to learn the language. With total immersion you pick things up so much faster. If the predominant language is English, you get the chance to learn a different lingo. Just like being from Texas, we use the word “y’all”, “sir” and “ma’am”, religiously. In Australia, “mate” and “bloke” are typical words. Expand your knowledge of their language or learn the lingo and use them, religiously!
  1. Employers respect students that are willing to take chances and learn more about themselves and the world. Getting to show that you’ve experienced a different culture expresses that you’re responsible, outgoing, mature, and can adapt quickly.
  1. You get a deeper sense of another culture…and, maybe even more so, of your own. You start to notice the things that you do differently and the things you do the same.
  1. You are able to form your own opinions and ideas separate from the ties of family, friends, and the culture that you grew up in. Being abroad is an eye opening experience. Seeing their economy, the way they live, and what they value can make you create your own values and appreciate so much.
  1. You are the farthest from your comfort zone. Everyone has the tendency to stay loyal to their habits, because they feel safe with them. However, when people ask me what my favorite part of studying abroad was, I immediately answer, “being able to get out of my comfort zone”. I believe that when you step out of comfort zone you create incredible and unforgettable experiences and memories.
  1. You become way more independent. Way, way, way, way more independent. Being thrown into a different country can be a little overwhelming at times, but it’s so liberating to experience something on your own, without your friends or family.
  1. You make friends that you will have the rest of your life. I have created a broad network that stretches from Australia, Qatar, England, Scotland, The Netherlands, California, New York, and even some more in Texas. It’s been two years since my semester abroad, and I still visit with my friends almost every day. I have even gone on to live with two of them, in California, for the summer! I’m telling you, the friends you meet during this experience will be with you through so many more experiences.

Now that I have shared my experience, I challenge you to create and share yours!

Those diagnosed with this bug can expect the urge to buy an impulse plane ticket to a different country and experience the world.

Don’t worry, though… you’re not the only one with a severe case of the travel bug.

When you take that leap across those big, blue ponds, here are some things you should do:

  • Go on a free walking tour of your city
  • Take an overload of pictures
  • Get lost (in a safe manner) and explore
  • Attend school events
  • Write a blog or journal
  • Buy souvenirs
  • Don’t rely on your cell phone
  • Meet new people and stay in touch with them
  • Travel, travel, TRAVEL
  • Eat their food
  • Attempt to understand the locals favorite sport
  • Take a road trip
  • Use the lingo
  • Experience their daily lifestyle

I may not be a doctor, but you should trust me anyway.

For more information about your travel bug experience, I encourage you to visit the study abroad website, or even with a study abroad advisor!

TTU Study Abroad: https://ttu-sa.terradotta.com

Don’t let your financial standing be a burden on taking this amazing, once in a lifetime opportunity. Apply for scholarships (they’re everywhere), or create a Go Fund Me account to share with your friends and family for extra funding.

TTU Scholarships: http://ttu-sa.terradotta.com/scholarships

Go Fund Me: http://www.gofundme.com

Study Abroad Scholarships: http://www.studyabroad.com/scholarships.aspx

Education Abroad Scholarships: http://www.educationabroadnetwork.org/scholarships.html

Good luck, my fellow travel bug victims!

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