I leapt from the couch awoken by a loud thud. Alert, I stood up and rubbed my eyes making sure each contact was still intact. I waited for another series of boisterous sounds to follow, but the house stood still. I thought nothing of it, glanced at my phone to note the time, then made my way upstairs to use the restroom and check on the children.
As I tiptoed back downstairs, desperately trying not to wake the kids, I heard another bang. This time it continued, and I was able to follow the thuds through the kitchen, directly leading to the back door. Once I undid the lock, the parents I was babysitting for drunkenly stumbled into the doorway demanding an explanation for my late arrival. They forgot their keys and claimed that they’ve been waiting more than 20 minutes for me to let them in. Ruefully, I pondered on my answer, and laid out my rebuttal.
A. Tell them I had my headphones in and I was listening to music.
B. Tell them I thought it was the cat fumbling around.
C. Tell them about this week. This long miserable week that ended with them scuffling into the house on Saturday at 3am, when my shift began on Friday. The Friday exactly after the Monday and Wednesday night I spent wired on Red bull studying for finals. The Friday after the Tuesday and Thursday spent working long hours as a nanny in Marin. My terrible week of finals had ended with them and I fell asleep after putting the children to bed 5 hours ago. That’s why I didn’t hear their rambunctious knocks to enter through the back door.
My answer ended up consisting of a combination of all three and I lost my job babysitting for that particular family. That night, like many other nights spent babysitting for Bay Area aristocrats, haunts my college career memories. I fell into the profession during my first years of college and while I needed the money, it kept me from pursuing my dream career as a journalist. The hours spent babysitting grew longer, the money got better, and before I knew it I was almost a junior in college. I had only completed one internship and was overworking myself in the WRONG industry.
That particular family, on that oh so miserable Friday, pushed me to study abroad. I needed to take a leap of faith and move as far away from my comfort zone as possible. I longed to spend each day experimenting with new and exciting ways to convey visual and editorial storytelling. I was also diving deeper into my major, and it was almost impossible to get into the classes I needed in order graduate. Major courses were always full by the time I registered, and if you attend a state school, you probably understand my pain. I figured studying abroad would help me flee from the torture of budget cuts and oversized classes.
After visiting an informational meeting I decided that Denmark would be the best place to ground my focus. The anxiety I built around my professional career evolved into excitement as I pictured a new educational setting, different from the hustle and bustle of the city. The application process was time consuming, but I will never forget the happiness I felt once accepted.
Joyfully, I quit my position as a “mommy intern,” ordered my passport, applied for housing (early), sent in the paperwork for my visa, and researched everything I could about Denmark. My financial aid covered the school’s tuition, but I had to provide the money necessary for living expenses. I took out a small loan, emptied my savings, and bargained with my grandparents. Although the experience was costly, it was worth every cent.
Studying abroad changed my life, my outlook on education, and the way that I view myself. Each semester at the Danish School of Media and Journalism led me on a new adventure. I was able to act as an international correspondent, interviewing officials at the European Parliament in Brussels, Belgium. I set sail for Samsø, the 100% wind powered island off the coast of Denmark, and created a news clip about electric cars. I even crafted a short documentary in Malmo, Sweden about an all girls skateboarding team. Best of all, I learned journalistic techniques from students visiting from twenty different countries.
Thanks to my voyage abroad, I have a conversation piece, an extra section on my resume, and skills that I wouldn’t have received at my home university. I turned my life around and now I am college graduate focused on succeeding as a multi-media journalist.
If you’re contemplating on studying abroad, I highly recommend it. Although the application process may vary depending on program and school, make sure to prepare yourself for the following:
Attend an informational meeting.
Apply for a passport NOW!
Order official transcripts.
Speak with professors about letters of recommendation.
Research study abroad programs that match your professional interests.
It’s never too early nor too late to shuffle the cards and change your life around!