Studying abroad means more independence

Being L.A., far from home has made exchange student Grace Lam more independent. Grace Lam | Daily Trojan

Being about to travel around the U.S., far her home in Hong Kong has made exchange student Grace Lam more independent. Grace Lam | Daily Trojan

I can’t believe it, but it has already been just over a month since I arrived in Los Angeles. Time flies, and it is already midterm week, but I feel like exchange student orientation was yesterday.

I know that a lot of USC students — especially the Marshall students whom I have met in the past month — are thinking about doing a semester abroad in Asia or Europe; some of them have already been accepted to an exchange program. If you ask me, I would definitely recommend studying abroad.  You will never know how much you can grow if you don’t take the initiative to try it yourself.

For me, doing a semester abroad has already made me more independent and open to new experiences. In Hong Kong, even if I was living in a dorm on campus, I could travel back home, a one-hour drive away, once a week. Dining options were very cheap and easily accessible by public transportation, and there was simply no need to cook for myself. However, going abroad meant I had to start grocery shopping for myself, sometimes cooking at night and planning ahead in order to save money for travelling. Thought the living style of each country varies, regardless of your destination it will definitely be an eye-opening experience.

Another highlight for every exchange students is traveling. As a student — especially if you are only transferring the credits back, not the grades — you have the privilege to make ambitious travel plans. If you are heading to another continent for an exchange program, make sure you visit as many cities and countries as possible as you never know if you will have the chance to stay in the region for six months without working in the future. For me, I have Fridays off and have often made use of the long weekend to plan trips to nearby attractions. I have been to many L.A. beaches, San Francisco, Las Vegas, the Grand Canyon and many more. I am also planning to go to Mexico, Canada, the East Coast and other South American countries before my exchange semester ends. Start planning early so you can manage your time well, and leave room in your schedule for other commitments like group meetings.

Overall, embrace a journey of self-discovery as you spend more and more time away from your homeland, and discover new and joyful experiences abroad.If you have the chance to go abroad, take it and enjoy.