Another Cliché Story of How Study Abroad Changes Your Life

By Kimberly Ngoh


Skyline of Singapore at night.


This might just be me, but two years into college I could feel myself falling into an ennui bred of long familiarity with the places and people around me. This is not to say I don’t  appreciate the present, though. Every semester meant new faces and opportunities, but at some point the routine of waking up, going to class, and working out built in me a desire for a new adventure. This adventure involved expanding my horizon all the way to the east.

I studied abroad in Singapore this summer, and at the risk of sounding cliché, I definitely recommend trying it out. And what better time to seize that opportunity than now? The U of I Study Abroad office hosts programs for a multitude of majors in countries spanning the globe. They provide guidance in budgeting, accommodation, and fitting the program into the timeline of your degree. The ease of studying abroad now, compared to the logistics of traveling with a full-time job, is reason enough for you to go forth and live the best years of your life.


Hiked for an hour to reach the viewpoint of Railay Beach, Krabi, Thailand.


Initially, I saw my study abroad experience solely as an opportunity to make my summer productive. I enrolled in research instead of taking classes, and other than that I planned to explore tourist-y spots in Singapore on my own. I was handed a list of other students attending the same program, but it never occurred to me that these people would also end up shaping my college experience. And having lived in Malaysia for a large part of my life, I did not think exploring other parts of Asia was necessary – a misconception I corrected this summer.


Sunset view in Batam, Indonesia.


When you have a finite amount of time with a seemingly endless list of things to see, do, and taste, you really start living. From a one-hour ferry ride to Batam, Indonesia, to a three-hour flight to Krabi, Thailand, every waking moment was spent treasuring all that life has to offer.

It’s s not as if I’ve seen it all, but I’ve seen enough to realize that life is meant for living and I want to appreciate the present moment, not focus on the past or worry about the future.

So, there you have it. Now you have some points of reference to work with when answering “Why Study Abroad?” in your application for upcoming summer or fall semester programs.


All photographs courtesy of the author.


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