COMMENTARY: Tips to help you go far — literally

Leah Catherine Turner

I never wanted to go to college. When I was around 8 years old I told my dad that I wasn’t going to go. He was making a sandwich and I was seated at the kitchen table. Without turning he replied, “Oh, you will go. I will see to that.” That was it; I had to go. 

I decided that I may as well try my best in school so that when the time came I would be prepared and be able to succeed. After graduating from high school, I was accepted into WKU and the Honors College, and have been doing well ever since. 

I share this anecdote because I think it is akin to how many people feel about traveling abroad — they are afraid. I did not want to go to college because I was terrified of failing. Studying abroad is far larger than anything you may have been able to do in your life before. Even though you may have conquered your fears of college, you definitely have not conquered the world. Living in an unfamiliar culture with an unfamiliar language is a challenge. In my experience, challenges scare people. 

If you are interested in seeing new places, new people, or having an adventure, do not let fear, uncertainty, or self-doubt stop you. Take the plunge; it may be the only chance you get. You won’t regret it. Not only are study abroad opportunities an excellent way to broaden your mind, but also to get a leg up in the work force. Studying abroad shows that you have the initiative, courage, and education to feel comfortable in being amidst a culture unlike your own. Employers are looking for all of these qualities, and any chance to make yourself look more desirable for a job in today’s economy is a pro.

Although it is a tedious process, applying for scholarships and/or grants is invaluable to study abroad. Travel is not cheap by any stretch of the imagination, but there is money to be had in this quarter if you know where to look.

Case in point, on Wednesday, Sept. 26, Study Abroad and Global Learning will be hosting a Study Abroad Fair in the Mass Media and Technology Hall from 9 to 3 p.m. This is a great opportunity to gather information on study abroad programs, scholarships, and to meet staff from different organizations within WKU as well as affiliates. There will be info regarding WKU study exchange partners, Office of Scholar Development staff, financial aid office staff, WKU faculty-led program providers, members of Kentucky Institute for International Studies (KIIS), Cooperative Center for Study Abroad (CCSA), and the list goes on. Studying abroad could be a once in a lifetime experience, so stop by the study abroad fair on Sept. 26 so that you can more fully understand opportunities open to you, and the people who can help make those happen.

Go somewhere — anywhere! — and open your mind. Rejoice in strangeness. Revel in the unknown. Conquer your fears. Embrace adventure. The world is yours when you’re young. 

Go get ‘em, Toppers!

Leah Catherine Turner

Hazard, Ky senior