Aug. 2, 2017
Reagan Villet is a senior majoring in communication with a minor in public relations in the College of Communication Arts and Sciences.
Before coming to college, I knew I wanted to study abroad. In fact, MSU’s nationally ranked study abroad program was one of the major reasons that I chose to become a Spartan. My sophomore year, I decided I needed to do something new, and I enrolled in the Mass Media in the U.K. and Ireland program. I was ready for the culture, the views and the education. However, I was unprepared for one of the most important aspects of my trip — the friendships I would make with my fellow Spartans.
Boarding my plane to Belfast, Northern Ireland, I didn’t know one single person in my group. I had briefly met everyone at a pre-program meeting, but I could not yet put a name to any of the faces. The first few days of the trip were full of whispered introductions and awkward silence. However, as we explored and learned and ventured more and more, the awkward silence became less silent and much less awkward. There was laughter and storytelling and picture taking. There were connections being formed and a growing sense of comfort between us all.
Five short weeks later, I was getting back on a plane home, with a mind full of memories and a phone full of contact information for some of my newest friends.
Now, over a year later, I look back and realize how important those five weeks were in the course of my college career. Not only did I receive an unparalleled hands-on educational experience, but I was able to form friendships with people whom I may never have met without my study abroad experience. I now have a group of people that I can message when I want to grab a bite to eat or head to a Spartan football game. I can almost always find one of them to sit with in a crowded lecture hall. We can sit for hours and talk like we’ve been friends our whole lives (especially when we are reminiscing about five of the best weeks of our lives!).
Spending time in an unfamiliar place forces you to try new things, and this is especially true when spending time in an unfamiliar place with unfamiliar people. Thinking about it, that is true of college as a whole. We come to a new place, sometimes with friends, and sometimes without. We are surrounded by bright minds, eager to learn and experience new things. We have roommates, we join clubs, we create connections.
Most importantly, we create friendships and memories that will last a lifetime.