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A Letter To Those Who Have Not Yet Studied Abroad

by Emily Pike

Dear Student,

You have made the decision to attend higher education for the experience and education it brings. But what if I told you that there is an essential component that can forever change your view of life and your credentials? Studying abroad is often seen as an experience that only the “rich kids” have the privilege of experiencing. From a student who does not preside within that category I want to say that it is possible. There are funds and initiatives that want to see students go abroad and receive the plentiful gifts it brings along with it. In fact, KIIS aided me in funding for such as well (and can help you to!). I am forever grateful for their aid. There is no way that I could have gone abroad without the aid given to me through scholarships alone. If you plan accordingly and apply yourself to the applications that will earn you such, I promise that the effort is worth it.

The Arenal Volcano.

Now that I have gotten the money question out of the way, let me tell you about the important things: how studying abroad has changed my viewpoint forever. I studied abroad with the Kentucky Institute of International Studies (KIIS) for a month in Costa Rica in the summer of 2023. This experience has taken me from being an under-traveled and under-experienced person to a well-rounded student. The people of Costa Rica and my host family (in which I highly recommend doing instead of staying in a hotel) have shown me what true family looks and act like. The environmental diversity of Costa Rica has shown me what taking care of the environment truly means and how the U.S. can apply such. But the most influential part of studying abroad is being outside the country. This may sound simple, but the effects are otherworldly. Being in Costa Rica has made me question my life back inside the States and allowed for true and uninterrupted reflection. This type of reflection is impossible in your home environment, and it just so happens that being outside the country will really encourage you to do so.

My host family’s cow Lu!

The chance to study abroad in college allows you to be abroad longer than you ever will be able to in your life. For me, it was a month. For others, it ranges from two weeks to a year. To be an internationally cultured citizen allows you to understand the US and other cultures in a different light (and have a relevant story for employers that will leave a lasting impression). Studying abroad allows you to make connections and friendships that will last a lifetime. Seeing that I am now on the other side of my abroad, I would regret never having done so. If you have a goal that your study abroad will accomplish or help with, and dedication to get yourself there, I promise it is an experience you will not want to miss.

Me and a butterfly from the butterfly garden.


Emily Pike

KIIS Costa Rica 2023
Child and Family Services, Consumer Science Education, Organizational Leadership
Western Kentucky University

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