A priceless perspective that elevates the Georgetown University experience is looking back at the Hilltop, from over your shoulder and from overseas.

In the current global environment — where complex problems know no borders — it is important to have at least one meaningful experience abroad to see how other people live and what they value.

The lessons you carry back are ones that will change and enrich the perspective you bring to things that lie ahead of you. What you glean from these experiences will support and challenge you as you venture out onto the path you choose and, in many cases, as you struggle to find that path.

As Hoyas, we believe our academic community becomes a richer place when we push you to go beyond just being a tourist. We want you to experience the twinge of discomfort in realizing that you might need to rethink what you already know and what you already believe you understand. For those still holding out on us for fear of missing Georgetown Day, clubs and friends, we challenge that there are three undeniably good reasons to venture abroad: the personal, the academic and the professional.

On a personal level, an experience that takes you to an unfamiliar place will often provide the push you need to be open to new ideas. Sure, we all say we want to be open to challenging ourselves, but how many of us cringe when we think about doing something that is really hard?

Think about your plans post-graduation. Do you have the courage to take a less well-defined path? An experience abroad might just help you develop the confidence you need to be patient in searching for what you really want instead of playing it safe. The experiences you have away from Georgetown can provide memories for a lifetime that will help you grow, mature and stretch yourself in ways that staying near good old 37th and O cannot.

An experience away from Georgetown can also give you a more nuanced understanding of your chosen major or minor. Think about the value of stepping into a culture you are studying. Sure, we all know you can improve your language skills, but think about the people you will be studying with and the ways in which they can change the way you learn things simply by sharing their perspectives with you.

Whatever path you choose after Georgetown, your experience abroad will set you apart, and above, those who have never traveled, studied or worked abroad. Employers — whether from the government, private sector or NGOs — appreciate these experiences and often speak to us about the value of them.

The time to start considering your overseas experience is now. Explore your options. Do not leave decisions and applications to the last minute. Doing so only limits what is available to you. Make the most of this experience and choose whatever it is that will get you where you want to go.

Let us be clear: This is not easy. Sometimes it is hard, and you might feel alone or afraid. Trust us when we tell you to go away! Some of the things we have learned from our years studying, living and working overseas are what help us help you through the challenges you bring to us.

Whatever you choose, be a good ambassador for Georgetown and your community. People will learn from you, too. In a time of such great challenges, at home and abroad, it is good to recall that Georgetown University was established in 1789 in the spirit of a new republic, itself a foreign country to most.

Our mission of serious and sustained discourse among people of different faiths, cultures and beliefs promotes understanding. We embody this principle in the diversity of our students, faculty and staff, our commitment to justice and the common good, our intellectual openness and our international character.
So go away — you will be glad you did.

Lisa Gordinier and Polly Robey are assistant deans in the School of Foreign Service. From the dean’s desk is a rotating column that appears every other Friday.

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