“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
In an earlier post, The Top 10 TED Talks For Study Abroad Students, #10 is Steve Jobs’ Stanford commencement speech entitled How To Live Before You Die. In it he says, “Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your inner voice.” He goes on to say, “Have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become.”
Why is this important? I believe that the more deeply you understand yourself, the more enriching your life experiences become and the more impact you have in the world.
In my book, Study U Abroad, I call this concept the key of Finding Your Inner Compass. It’s that intuitive part that’s always in play, but is seldom paid attention to. It’s like having your own internal GPS to help lead you on your journey through life’s big decisions.
Study Abroad and travel create a perfect opportunity for you to get to know yourself better and discover what makes you tick. Not only do you meet new people and experience new things, but you also have time to reflect on your own life from afar, without the distraction of everyday stress.
Here are my top 4 tips to Find Your Inner Compass on Study Abroad:
1. Spend time alone
Yes, this might be challenging if you’re constantly surrounded by new friends and figuring out your next big weekend excursion, but spending time alone is one of the most empowering things you can do. Use time alone to quiet the mind and reflect on your life and pay attention to the little things. Practice being present and see what’s there.
2. Ask yourself the big questions
Be willing to ask yourself the big questions. Who am I? What do I want in my life? What makes me happy? Questions like these help you uncover your values, passions, and purpose. Your answers may change throughout life. What was important to you before studying abroad might be different than after. The important part is to answer honestly. There’s no point in hiding from your truth!
Almost every Study Abroad student I’ve talked to says one of the best things they did was keep a journal while away. Whether you blog or journal the old fashioned way writing things down can have a huge impact on your experience. It gives you a way to constantly go back and reflect on where you’ve been and what you’ve done. These things all hold clues to your Inner Compass and who you’re becoming. Sometimes it’s only when the words are there staring back at us that we have personal epiphanies. If writing isn’t for you, find some other form of expression that is.
4. Try new things
Finding Your Inner Compass often involves a lot of trial and error. Get out there and do stuff. Try new things. This shouldn’t be difficult on Study Abroad as everything is new and there are plenty of adventures to be had. By actually doing things you experience life and begin to figure out what you do and don’t like.
Use Study Abroad to Find Your Inner Compass and enrich your journey both abroad and back home. Don’t miss the opportunity to know yourself better and share that with the world!