I have one regret from my time at Occidental College. I didn’t join a fraternity. It’s kind of a ridiculous regret really, because I didn’t actually have that much interest in joining while I was there, but looking back I realised it’s actually the only thing I didn’t just say yes to for my entire year.
And that’s the amazing thing about a year abroad, especially in the US, which is so vast and colourful and full of opportunity. In the course of a year I joined the rugby team and travelled around the country going to tournaments, I learned Latin (super useful, I know), worked in local elementary schools, went to Vegas twice in a week, spent Winter Break living in a community centre in New Orleans, spent Spring Break freezing cold in Zion National Park and loving it, road tripped up and down the West Coast, and so much more.
Your year abroad is such a chance to be free. I viewed it as my last chance to study whatever I wanted before I had my final year dissertation, and an incredible opportunity to travel and do things I’d never before considered. My friends from my time abroad are still some of my closest friends; I consider them to be some of the smartest, kindest and most interesting people I know. I can’t believe I would never have met them if I hadn’t chosen to do a study abroad year.
Every study abroad experience will be different, and that’s to be expected, but take chances, and say yes to the opportunities that come your way and you’ll be glad that you did; come home with no regrets, a new group of amazing friends, and memories that will stay with you forever.
Sam Clark is an American and English Literature alumni who graduated in 2012.