Live the Life you've Dreamed off Abroad
It’s been almost two year since the big adventure in the land of opportunities started for me. An adventure that took me to study at one of the most beautiful campuses in the world, Santa Barbara City College. This blog post includes my thoughts as a Finnish international student on how it is to study abroad in a different country and in a different language.
It’s not far of the truth if I say that the life I live now is a life that I have always dreamed of. Naturally the first months at SBCC felt tough, since it took a while for me to adapt all the new things like the American culture and the different school system. But when I got through the beginning struggles and started feeling that I belonged here and was able to enjoying the Cali life for real.
Even though my free time consists mostly of practicing my sport, horse polo, I always keep in mind that I’m here for learning and good grades. As a matter of fact, thanks to SBCC’s amazing location and the great atmosphere around the campus I manage many times to combine fun and school work. A good example of this is that I do most of my readings at the beach, sometimes even with friends, while enjoying the ocean breeze and while getting tan.
I take my studies very seriously and the effort I’ve put in the school work during my years in SBCC has been awarded with Phi Theta Kappa Honors society membership, two president’s Honor Roll and of course with good grades. I also like to be active in the campus life in order to get most of my experience in a U.S college. This is why I became an SBCC Ambassador. I also saw that volunteering for the Study abroad program would give me a good opportunity to tell people how happy I have been with the decision to study in a different country.
When it’s time to let the brain rest I give myself time to enjoy all the things that California has to offer. On my free time I for example visit other cities and sometimes even other states. So far I have visited for example San Diego, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, and Palm Springs. Spring Breaks 2018 and 2019 even took me all the way to beautiful Mexico.
But most of the times I don’t leave SB because of polo. During my first year I had more time to explore California, but the second year has been very busy with challenging political science classes and polo practices. I see that I have spent my two years well in Santa Barbara, because the first year I allowed myself to enjoy my time in the new country while the second year I have been pushing myself in order to become an even better student and to be prepared for more challenging classes and schools.
Furthermore, my active social life with both SBCC and UCSB students has brought me heaps of life lasting friendships and tons of unforgettable memories and has changed me as a person in a good way. Success in my studies and realization that international relations is the major I want to transfer to with an Political Science AA under my belt has given me confidence to believe that I’m on the right path to fulfill my academic dreams.
All the new friends and connections that I’ve made during my time in Santa Barbara has broadened my International network, which is not only amazing but can also be helpful when thinking about my future career as a diplomat. Meeting students from all nationalities during my time at SBCC has also had me realize that I want to continue my bachelor’s degree in Europe at an international university called EU Business School.
The key of getting most out of your studying abroad experience is by being open to new things. By this I mean getting to know new people, taking classes you never thought you would/ could take, or experiencing adventures you only dreamed about.
It’s important to get out of your comfort zone in order to get most of your college experience, wherever you choose to go. This could mean making friends outside of your usual friend network. For many international students this would mean to bond with people from other countries than your home country. Also becoming friends with locals will help you fit in and get the real cultural experience. In my opinion this is also the best way to improve your language skills. Becoming friends with students who have similar academic interests can also help you reach your academic goals.
I also think it’s good getting to know people from other campuses in the area because this way you will get a wider view of different campus college lives. It can also be useful to know about other campuses if or when you are planning for your transfer or master’s program. I have lots of friends from UCSB, UCLA and UCSD. They haven not only helped me with my studies but they have also shown me how things are done around their campus.
My advice for the students who want to get most out of their study abroad program experience can be found in the old saying; “When in Rome, do as the Romans do” meaning that it’s advisable to follow the conventions of the area in which you are residing. Putting an effort into your studies will make your time and money worthwhile, but in order to get most out of the unique lifestyle you are experiencing abroad, you need to remember to allow yourself to also have some fun and not to be afraid of adventures.
Where do you want to go to study? Go to the SBCC Study Abroad website to see what programs are available. Curious what other students have experienced on the programs in Bali, Japan, Germany, France, Austria, Bolivia and other countries? Follow @studyabroadsbcc or #sbccstudyabroad for all the amazing pictures from abroad.
About Alexandra Silfver:
Alexandra Silfver was an international student from Finnland at Santa Barbara City College. She was a member of the SBCC ambassadors and received the additional Study Abroad certificate for supporting the SBCC Study Abroad programs. in the Fall 2018 and Spring 2019 semesters.