#StudyAbroadBecause Why Not?

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Laura Breshock is the Donor Relations Coordinator at Pike Place Market Foundation in Seattle, Washington. She graduated from Linfield College (Oregon) in 2014 with a BA in History. During her undergrad, she traveled to Oslo, Norway for her study abroad, where she studied cultural education. She graduated from King’s College London in 2016 with a MA in Creative and Cultural Industries. She is interested in music, art, and history. She is currently saving up so she can travel again. Her favorite cities to visit are Oslo, Lisbon, and Groningen. 
Laura Breshock: #StudyAbroadBecause Why Not?

What motivated your decision to go abroad? How/why did you choose where to go?
I had grown up listening to my mother’s stories about living abroad in London, and I wanted a similar experience, one outside the American sphere of influence. I wanted to get outside of the realm of known. How I chose Norway was by chance. My tiny school had a very extensive International Program. For many countries, there was a language requirement, or it was highly competitive. I was choosing between Nottingham, England, and Oslo, Norway and I called my dad for help. His advice not only made my decision, but became my rallying call while abroad, "Laura, who goes to Oslo? When would you ever go to Oslo in the future? So why not Oslo?" Why Not Oslo, indeed. 
Laura Breshock: #StudyAbroadBecause Why Not?

What was your experience like? What is your favorite memory? What were some challenges you observed? 
My experience was fantastic. I really cannot put into words the influence that those 4 months had on me. I was in a country that was entirely different politically, socially, and historically from America. It is a visually beautiful landscape. Islands in the harbor, Fjords diving into the ocean, and mountains towering over you. And I was there during the winter - there is nothing like watching the sunset with your afternoon cup of tea at 3 o'clock. I lived in student housing, where there were 16 other people on my floor, from all over the world. Norway has a really fantastic national education program for international students. They strongly encourage people to get their education in Norway. I met people from everywhere - India, Ghana, Colombia, Chile, Peru, and China. I met many European students as well through the Erasmus program; it was eye-opening. I witnessed German and Dutch people deal with their complicated histories with one another, and ultimately get over it and become good friends. I witnessed an ethnically Afghani woman, who was raised in Germany, identifies as a German citizen, being told by other Germans how good her German was. I got told by my Colombian friends to stop only referring to the States as American, because they were American too, but they weren't from the states. 

The biggest challenge I observed was the cultural exchange and some of the frictions that come with it. But more often than not, frictions were overcome and lifelong friendships were made. My favorite memory is more of a routine rather than a specific memory. My girlfriends and I would go to this little sushi shop near our house on Saturday mornings. Norway has some amazing fish, and the little Japanese woman who worked there got to know us pretty well - it got to the point where we would walk in and she would start our orders. We would sit there and gossip about the prior night's events, and watch Oslo walk by us. Norway has also mastered the art of the coffee shop.
Laura Breshock: #StudyAbroadBecause Why Not?

What skills did you develop from your experience? Do you feel changed from your experience abroad? 
I learned how to be a great communicator. I learned to be welcoming and inviting in how I interact with people. I also learned how to network on a micro level. Through my networking, I have plenty of free places to stay in many countries around the world. I do feel changed by my experience; I feel more connected on a global scale. My eyes were opened to so many different perspectives, lifestyles, and cultures. I became hungry for more. My little sliver of understandings was blown out of the water, because there is so much more to the world than just my corner of it!
Laura Breshock: #StudyAbroadBecause Why Not?

Has your experience helped you get to where you are today? 
It made me a great networker. I learned how to present myself, and how to carry myself. I work in nonprofit Development, which means a lot of meeting new people while creating relationships and bonds with various types of people. Being abroad and having the experience I have has prepared me for this aspect of my career. My experience in Oslo also gave me the travel bug! Which lead me to getting my Masters in London (!), which was an incredibly important step in my career for me. Without my Norway experience, I would never have thought of getting my Masters in another country. 
Laura Breshock: #StudyAbroadBecause Why Not?

What advice would you share with other students who are thinking of going abroad? 
Just say yes, to everything (with in your own reasoning) - don't let no stop you from experiencing what is out there. Don't hold yourself back. 
How has international education impacted or influenced your cultural identity?
It has reinforced the fact that I am an American, and trust me, people love to remind you of that. Before going abroad, I thought that there was nothing good about the states, that we were doing everything wrong. But after being abroad, I realize that no one country really has it right, and that everyone has skeletons in their closets. Being away from the states made me realize what I loved about home, because at the end of the day it is home. 
Laura Breshock: #StudyAbroadBecause Why Not?

Is there anything else you'd like to share with us? 
Study abroad, see new places, eat new things, and speak to people who you normally would never get the chance to listen to. 


#studyabroadbecause why not?

Ally Buzzanga, our study abroad editor, is a 25 year old postgraduate who’s passionate about cultural shock, urban environments, and fish & chips. She notes, "I spent the fall of 2012 studying abroad in London and decided then that living and traveling abroad was something that I was passionate about. Study abroad programs are getting more and more popular in the US and that’s great. I’d love to see American culture fully embrace the “gap year” and “gone travelling” attitude that my foreign friends so casually mentioned. So many young people take the time to go on months-long journeys that are pretty much a rite of passage in their society. In the past 4 years, I’ve been able to see parts of the world I never even considered, from Europe to Africa and many a sheep-riddled village in the UK. I attribute so many of my skills and successes to my years spent outside of the US."

Photos courtesy and copyright Laura Breshock