I’ve talked frequently about the importance of trying new things in college, of getting involved on campus, and of meeting new people. I believe it’s also worth noting, however, how important it can be to immerse yourself in an entirely new culture – whether elsewhere in the United States or a new country entirely. Experiencing the world and meeting people different than yourself is the best thing that can be gained in college – otherwise you’ll be crippled upon entry in to the real world and unable to relate to or understand those who may be different than yourself. There’s a lot of different world views out there, and a lot of different ways to approach the contentious issues of our time, and I strongly believe that something new can be learned from everyone – the more different than you, the better!
The best time for college students to step outside their comfort zones and travel is during the summer. Here are my 3 ways to “get out there” during college and experience the world around you – all made possible thanks to K-State:
1. International Service Teams (http://www.k-state.edu/leadership/programs/internationalteams/):
K-State’s world-renowned School of Leadership Studies has a student group called “International Service Teams.” Each year, students are selected to go to a number of different locations around the world for the summer to take part in service-learning initiatives according to specific community needs. Projects often relate to health, education, and youth development needs in the communities. This year, four different groups (each made up of 4 or 5 students) are traveling to one of either Brazil, Kenya, Mexico, or South Africa to serve the local communities, develop leadership skills and lifelong friendships. My friend Kaitlin Long went to Kenya a couple of summers ago as a part of International Service Teams – see the photo above!
2. Studying Abroad (http://www.k-state.edu/studyabroad/):
K-State provides a ton of opportunities to travel to other parts of the world, study abroad while attending a university there, and get course credit in the process! While I haven’t studied abroad, those I know who have say that it’s truly a life-changing experience. They came back with a much more complete view of the world and its citizens, and with connections and memories to last a lifetime! My friend Brad Ellis (pictured to the left) studied abroad in Spain last year, and has nothing but positive words to say about his experience.
I’ve had the opportunity to spend the last two summers in Washington D.C. doing a couple of different internships. While Washington D.C. certainly isn’t a different country, I still managed to meet a lot of different people with different views than my own, and I gained career experience in the process. No matter how far one travels to complete a summer internship, I believe just as much can be learned during business hours at your internship as can be learned outside of work from those you meet.
Summer vacations during college provide a unique opportunity to travel the country (and world!) to gain course credit, serve those less fortunate, and gain knowledge for eventual careers. Above all though, experiences like those above can broaden your world view and enable you to approach situations with holistic wisdom upon your return. K-State makes each of these opportunities possible – just another reason to bleed purple!