Study Abroad Stories

Study Abroad Stories and Confessions

Updated June 15, 2017. A personal account written by Linguistic Horizons intern and San Diego State International Business graduate, Marlon Matthew.

Are you planning on studying abroad? Perhaps it is something you gave some thought to, but an extra push is necessary to find the motivation or desire to get out of your comfort zone. Either way, I’m going to share some of my study abroad stories and I sincerely hope you can gain a little more perspective from my experiences.

It is ever more important for students to attain an international outlook. Studying abroad prepares students for real world scenarios beyond those of the domestic college experience. It also tests one’s ability to adapt to a different culture while challenging one’s capacity to succeed in a new educational environment.

study abroad stories
Marlon exploring the sand dunes in Concón, Chile!

Expand your horizons!

In many cases, the universities abroad operate on a level completely different than what you might have become accustomed to at home. This experience can give students who study abroad the extra edge that they need to stand out on a resume or in an interview. Additionally, studying abroad can expand one’s horizons and alter one’s perception on life in very positive ways.  Even if studying abroad is not something that you are required to do to complete your major, it is still something I think every college student should experience.

study abroad stories
A beautiful sunset in Viña del Mar.

Challenges in Chile.

I studied abroad in Viña del Mar, Chile for about four and a half months in 2016. While that time-frame may seem like a lot for some, I was only just getting my feet wet. My studies there involving international distribution and trade law were very challenging. Understanding lectures in native Chilean Spanish was difficult to say the least. I took it upon myself to seek assistance from fellow classmates, professors and even the school librarian. I visited the office hours of my professors when they were available as much as I possibly could. Everyone could see that I was not having the easiest time, but was making a strong effort to do my best.

Bring it on!

The classes I had selected were all senior level and had prerequisites. The prerequisites were only available the previous semester, as the class schedule changes bi-yearly. Interestingly enough, I was allowed to enroll in these more advanced courses. Little did I know what I was really getting myself into. When I chose my courses, I selected the ones that seemed the most interesting and beneficial to me. I did not know that they were second or third tier courses. There really weren’t many options available anyways based off of the required courses I needed to complete my degree. By the time I realized exactly the situation I was in, I sucked it up and stayed the course. I knew I was going to be in for a rough ride, but I was making friends on campus so I felt that I would be able to have plenty of study partners.

Then, just to make things just a little more difficult, all of the Chilean students went on strike. For the last month of the semester, the vast majority of my support system was stripped from me. All group projects that were assigned to me had to be handled all by myself, with expectations still being set high. Lets just say that for a couple weeks, I barely slept while working very diligently on my assignments. I powered through it despite the increasing challenges.

It was over before I knew it.

My tenacious effort and willingness to take advantage of what little resources I had truly mattered. I was able to succeed during my time in Chile. Just as soon as I was starting to become more comfortable with Chilean Spanish, it was time to leave. There were quite a few other international students who were there for a year. At the time, I thought it would be too crazy to be in Chile for any longer than 5 months. Now, I know that these students had the right idea. I would study abroad again in South America in a heartbeat. Not only were the people in Chile amazing and heart-warming, the cities and the countryside were beautiful in ways that now feel as if they were part of a dream.

study abroad stories
A lovely view from the rocky shore of Concón.

Why study abroad? Why make the sacrifice?

I chose to study international business mainly because I wanted to travel and study abroad. As the time to leave for Chile came closer and closer, I started to feel apprehensive. I was very comfortable with how my life was going in San Diego. In fact, I had to sacrifice quite a lot in order to be able to fund my trip. I even had to move out of my apartment, which I cherished very much. Living once again at my mom’s house took some adjustment, especially as a college student getting ready for one of the biggest life changing events of his life. I must say that it was all totally worth it because I feel stronger and more confident now than I ever have before.

What is the biggest take-away of my experience in Chile?

Now that I am transitioning into a career in digital marketing, I can see how my study abroad experience has prepared me to tackle life head-on.  Chile in some ways was one of the most difficult experiences I went through in my life. Because of that, I feel that most objectives and tasks now are a breeze. If I could achieve success in Chile, I can achieve success anywhere.

Studying abroad is also one of the most enchanting experiences of my life. I had a great time making new friends and seeing new places. It was a journey I will never forget. I hope you will have the opportunity to study abroad as well. Are you ready to have one of the most valuable and educational experiences of your life? It might be challenging, or who knows, it might be easy. One thing is for sure, it will definitely open your eyes and heart to a vast realm of different possibilities.


Study Abroad Stories and Confessions, written by Marlon Matthew. Matthew is currently a job seeker in the digital marketing industry. When he is not busy applying and interviewing, he enjoys implementing his web design and digital marketing skills towards personal and professional projects. He also enjoys Kung Fu, hiking excursions, and playing a mean set of drums.

Interested in studying abroad? Visit the Linguistic Horizons home page for an overview of the types of cultural immersion programs currently available. There are also more study abroad stories from Linguistic Horizons alumni here.

Have any study abroad stories of your own? Please feel free to leave a comment below! Study abroad stories.

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