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Friday, June 21
The Indiana Daily Student


Get out while you still can

I’m enrolled at IU-Bloomington, but I’m not just an IU student. In my almost 3 1/2 years here, I’ve been a student of Shanghai, China, and Tokyo and Kyoto, Japan.

Your collegiate years are one of the few times in your life someone will pay for you to go somewhere. Even if you can’t find free money such as grants and scholarships, student loans can often be applied to summers or semesters away.

Think about that. You can borrow money to travel. Barring excessive credit card debt, that’s not really a possibility ?post-graduation.

Once you enter the real world, semesters will be replaced with almost endless blocks of work. Paid travel opportunities will be limited to employer needs. You’ll be lucky if you get a real vacation your first year, let alone if you can get enough money together to go somewhere.

Clearly, the time is now. Get out while you still can. Many Hoosiers have.

IU ranked fifth in the nation last year for the number of students going abroad.

Still, the ranking is less impressive when you look at the numbers. In 2012, 2,328 IU-Bloomington students went abroad. That’s about 6 percent of our undergraduate student population.

Nationwide, international travel rates are similarly dismal. Only one-third of American citizens have a passport, according to some estimates. Even fewer actually use them.

Rates of international travel wouldn’t matter so much were it not 2014.

We wear clothes made in Vietnam, Bangledesh and Indonesia. We watch Japanese anime and South Korean soap operas. We might talk to someone in India when our cable stops working.

We drop bombs on the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. We conduct drone strikes in Yemen and ?Pakistan.

Children from Latin America are flooding our borders as refugees. Ebola, a virus primarily infecting those in West Africa, is causing global panic. We have troops and medical personnel there to help stem the outbreak.

Today in class you’ll probably listen to a lecture given by a foreign professor with international students sitting next to you taking notes.

We need to understand the world outside our own borders and our place in it. The way we live our lives affects how people we’ve never met halfway around the world live theirs and vice versa.

We need to know what it feels like to be an outsider. That vulnerability makes you stronger and more empathetic to the immigrants you’ll inevitably interact with at home.

We need to learn how to communicate with people who speak different languages, use different body language and have different cultural practices.

After all, it’s impossible that you will live and work in a bubble where intelligent and empathetic communication doesn’t ?matter.

Staying home is comfortable, but who ever made memories playing it safe?

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