The Student News Site of Sonoma State University

Sonoma State Star

The Student News Site of Sonoma State University

Sonoma State Star

The Student News Site of Sonoma State University

Sonoma State Star

Traveling to find yourself

Study abroad experience
COURTESY%2F%2F+Paige+Younkin
COURTESY// Paige Younkin

Traveling to study a semester abroad can be one of the core memories of a person’s college experience. Everything from experiencing a foreign country to making a whole new group of friends to trying to learn new concepts in school in a different language. Sonoma State has a study abroad program with various destinations and countries available to students. Third-year business major Paige Younkin spent the first semester of her sophomore year studying abroad in the south of France. 

Younkin talks about how moving to a foreign country for five months without knowing anyone there can move you out of your comfort zone. Overcoming these obstacles can lead to a better experience for each student. “You will experience the most beautiful things only when you’ve gone out of your comfort zone,” Younkin says. This is a great reason why taking a semester to study abroad can be impactful for students because it can force them to learn and grow beyond their comfort zones. 

While the experience of traveling abroad can be very impactful on a student’s life, it can change how they view themselves and Sonoma State after spending a semester overseas. Younkin reflects on her own experience, saying, “Sonoma doesn’t seem any more different, I think I’ve changed more. I like Sonoma and my life much more now because I have learned to love being on my own.” Learning to be comfortable by yourself is a big way that students are forced to adapt when living in a foreign-speaking country for the first time. 

Younkin also says that it taught her more about opening yourself up to other people. “I learned more about how to connect with all sorts of people when I lived in Europe so coming back to Sonoma after France was completely different than my first time around.” Being in a foreign country can test students socially. It can make simple interactions, such as saying hello, a challenge when in a foreign language. “The biggest difference I noticed in school in the south of France is that all of my classmates were from all over the world. There was not a single American, let alone an English speaker in my classes.”

Trying to communicate with friends can be tiring, however, at the same time, it can create a memorable bond that students can carry with them for the rest of their lives. “We would all go out together for whole nights trying our best to speak the most broken French to communicate. They were amazing people though, and those memories are some of the greatest I’ve had.” Paige was able to make some lifelong friends while in France, which is what the study abroad program is truly about. 

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About the Contributor
Charlie Taylor, Staff Writer
Charlie Taylor is a third year communication studies major at Sonoma State.
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