Redefine wealth through study abroad program

Emily Reise

A common expression is “traveling is the only thing that you buy that makes you richer.” While it is true that investing in stocks or working two jobs can make you monetarily richer, traveling and studying abroad can make you richer in another way. In society, people sometimes mistakenly measure other’s success based on the amount of zeroes they have in their bank account. If someone has a luxurious vehicle, then many assume they must be a successful person. It is hard for many of us, including students at UW Oshkosh, to not fall into this misconception. Growing up in a competitive society, it is difficult for many to try to keep up with new styles and ultimately with each other. It is especially challenging to keep up when companies are shying away from new fall and spring clothing styles and are instead releasing a new chain of apparel every two weeks. Harvard Business School white paper, “Zara’s Secret for Fashion,” reports that clothing company Zara, “creates approximately 40,000 new designs annually from which 10,000 are selected for production. Since most garments come in five to six colors and five to seven sizes, Zara’s system has to deal with something in the realm of 300,000 new stock-keeping units on average every year.” The reality is money can buy you a lot of things. Money can buy you a closet full of Zara apparel, new technology or a lavish vehicle. Money, however, cannot buy you an open mind, compassion, patience, or diversity. Traveling has the potential to do all of those things. If students valued memories and experiences the way they value money and nice items, society could be a very different place. UWO communications major Katelyn Olson studied abroad in Ireland and said you learn things when you travel that you wouldn’t have learned in a classroom setting. “I gained an entirely new appreciation for other cultures, and just for how much diversity is present in the world,” Olson said. “I also really learned how much personal growth is found outside of my comfort zone. I tried new things, met new people and experienced new adventures I would have never been a part of if I didn’t push myself beyond what I knew.” Even though the travel abroad programs offered through the University cost more than a normal university course, they equip students with opportunities they cannot learn in the classroom and cannot buy at a store. UWO junior Randi Murray participated in a study abroad and is signed up to do another study abroad trip this year. “I would suggest people to study abroad because there is so much beyond our borders to see, experience and explore, and studying abroad couldn’t be a more perfect way to do it,” Murray said. Education major Rachel Perreault, who also studied abroad in Ireland, came to a life changing realization about the importance of the environment in America through her experiences in the Irish countryside. “I didn’t realize how unimportant the environment here in America is to us until I talked to the Ireland locals and heard and saw first-hand how in love they all are with their land,” Perreault said. American writer Henry Miller perhaps put it best in a famous quote: “One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.” There are so many incredible places on Earth: under the sea, above the clouds, in sink holes, on top of volcanoes, in a lively city or a tranquil countryside. All can offer different experiences and life changing takeaways for students. They should embrace the opportunity to road trip, study abroad or experience any kind of new adventure. There are easy and effective ways for students to save some extra cash for these adventures. There are part-time jobs on campus that are always looking for employees. The beneficial thing about working on campus is, normally, a student can pick their hours and the jobs are flexible around classes and activities. Many students mistakenly assume they can’t afford to study abroad, but if they learn to budget their expenses and take advantage of campus opportunities, they may be surprised. The College Board reports that the average on-campus student spends $1,989 per year on “personal expenses,” much of which is entertainment they could have gotten for free from their school. Students should also be aware that the University and other organizations offer scholarships that can be used toward books, study abroad programs, or tuition. Taking advantage of every adventure, and spending money on these journeys will make an individual richer in ways that are more important than any monetary value or material item.