Number 1: If you ever, ever, ever have the chance to travel or study abroad, DO IT. I promise you will not be disappointed. Yes, it takes time, yes it takes money, and yes it takes effort.
DOESN'T MATTER. It is one-hundred percent worth it if you go in with a positive attitude and make the most of your experience and the opportunities that come with it. Why you should consider studying abroad
Number 2: By no means limit yourself to the actual "study abroad" portion of the trip. Especially if the program, as in my case, is short. Once you spend the money to get abroad, STAY THERE. For over a month I have been interning abroad and it has been one of the most engaging, interesting, and rewarding experiences of my life (cliche but TRUE).
I have been abroad since May 10, 2013 and I go home on Monday, July 1. Here is a snapshot lift of some of the things I have done:
The above was the study abroad program, SPEA in Croatia, from May 10 to May 26. See this: http://www.indiana.edu/~spea/spea_abroad/SPEA_Summer_Abroad/Croatia/index.shtml
I would highly recommend this program to any and all IU (or IUPUI) students.
However, IT WAS NOT LONG ENOUGH. If you are going to spend thousands of dollars to go halfway around the world, DO NOT come right back after 2 weeks. DO NOT. GO somewhere else!!!
By connecting through the program's professor, I was able to seek and acquire an Internship with the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs, in its Sarajevo Office. This has allowed me to stay for another month, and do SO MUCH MORE than just the study abroad. The real benefit, other than the international work experience, has been physically LIVING abroad. Meeting locals. Having my own apartment. Getting a feel for the social, cultural, and political environment of an extremely intriguing country and region.
An very abbreviated list of what I have done, AFTER the study abroad ended, including some of my internship responsibilities and opportunities:
I want to stop for a minute to talk about Belgrade, Serbia. GO HERE, stay in the Hedonist Hostel. http://www.hedonisthostelbelgrade.com/ One of the best experiences of my life. It is here I have met people and made friends from Australia, England, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Scotland, France, Italy, Boston/NY/Oklahoma/California/etc, Argentina, Turkey, Croatia/Serbia/Bosnia, Switzerland, the Czech Republic, the Netherlands, and MORE. (1 guy from Pittsburgh who has been traveling around Europe for 18 months says it is still his favorite hostel)
Great history, food and places; the best part has been the PEOPLE.
So, to wrap up: get out of your comfort zone, save up some money, go study abroad (at least during summer), live/work abroad if possible, MEET PEOPLE (especially locals ;), and have a BLAST learning and doing things you have never done before. Also, facebook and email are REALLY useful to keep in touch with people from around the world (I have tentative plans to visit new friends in Czech Republic, Copenhangen, Holland, and France).
Try to get people to open up and you will be amazed; people from different places and backgrounds view the world entirely different than you and I. FOCUS on the common bonds that BRING us TOGETHER.