International Studies & Programs

Learning extended beyond the classroom

Every weekend was a chance to embark on new adventures, from hiking picturesque landscapes to immersing myself in local markets and building a variety of chicken coops.

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Published: Wednesday, 13 Dec 2023 Author: Jalen Thorpe

Jalen squatting down next to two local children in TanzaniaAs I return and reflect on my study abroad journey, I am filled with an overwhelming sense of gratitude and transformation. The decision to study overseas was undoubtedly one of the most impactful choices I have ever made in my life. The experiences, lessons, and memories I gained during this adventure will forever shape the person I am today.

From the moment I stepped off the plane in a foreign land, I felt a mix of emotions, excitement, anticipation, and a hint of nervousness. Everything was new and unfamiliar, from the language to the culture, the food, and even the way of life. Within the first few weeks, I found myself adapting, learning, and growing in ways I never imagined being able to learn a new language.

One of the most remarkable aspects of my study abroad experience was the exposure to diverse perspectives. Interacting with students from all around the world broadened my horizons and opened my eyes to the struggles we all face. I engaged in deep discussions about global issues, cultural traditions, and societal norms, challenging my thinking and enriching my understanding of the world's complexities.

Being able to get hands-on experience helped make the Jalen posing in front of a waterfallstudy abroad amazing. Such as visiting different gardens where farmers grow a variety of crops, buying from local Maasai markets, and exploring different clubs to get a feel for different music.

Academically, studying abroad opened doors to unique learning opportunities. The hands-on experiences, whether through field trips, research projects, or classes learning Kiswahili, allowed me to apply theory to real-world contexts, enhancing my critical thinking and problem-solving skills.

However, it wasn't all about academics. Exploring the host country and its neighboring nations became integral to my journey. Every weekend was a chance to embark on new adventures, from hiking picturesque landscapes to immersing myself in local markets and building a variety of chicken coops. These experiences were a constant reminder that learning extends beyond the classroom and that the world is the ultimate teacher. It taught me to always go outside my comfort zone in order to grow.

Of course, there were challenges along the way. Language barriers, moments of homesickness, and navigating unfamiliar Group photo in Tanzania with MSU students and local peoplebureaucracies tested my resilience. But it was precisely these challenges that fueled my personal growth. I developed a newfound sense of independence, adaptability, and a global mindset that I could have never gained within the comfort of my home country.

As I sit here, reminiscing about my study abroad journey, I am overwhelmed by profound gratitude. I am grateful for the friendships forged, the lessons learned, and the memories etched in my heart forever. This experience has not only enhanced my education but has also enriched my life in countless ways. I am more open-minded, culturally aware, and confident in embracing the unknown.

To anyone considering studying abroad, I wholeheartedly encourage you to leap. Embrace the challenges, seize the opportunities, and relish every moment of this transformative journey. Studying abroad is not just about academics; it's about discovering yourself in a vast and diverse world. It's about becoming a global citizen, equipped with the skills and perspectives to make a positive impact on the world. I am thankful for the opportunity Michigan State provided and I hope to visit more places overseas around the world.

Name: Jalen Thorpe
Status: Freshman
Major: Integrative Studies in Social Science
Hometown: Chicago, Illinois
Program: Sustainable Community Development in Tanzania