Studying Abroad – A Perfectly OK Act of Selfishness


Emily and Host Mom
Emily and her host mother, Tati.

This is the post I didn’t necessarily want to write but I think that I had to. When I started thinking about studying abroad last March, it was a radical idea to me. There was no way I was actually going to be able to go abroad my senior year. And how the heck was I going to afford it?Well, here I am, five months later in an apartment with my host mom Tati, looking out over the Andes Mountains from my balcony. But that doesn’t mean this decision-making process was easy.

As I sit in my own room, I’m trying to remember everything that went through my head when first discerning whether or not I should study abroad for the fall semester in Santiago, Chile. I remember writing down my fears, reasons to stay, and things that could go wrong – from not getting my visa in time to forgetting to turn in a form at my home university, Xavier. Everything and everyone told me that I needed to go. However, the biggest thing that was holding me back was my view of selfishness at the time.

You see, studying abroad in Santiago is the most selfish thing I have ever done. Let me explain before you get upset and think that I believe I am a horrible person. When I said adios this August, watching my mom tear up on her porch or hearing the words leave my friends’ mouths that made me cringe – “Don’t leave.” – I knew I was being extremely selfish.Santiago after the rain (USAC Chile) pd

Society tells us that being selfish makes you awful, right? Being selfish is never a good thing and being called selfish makes you feel like you are the scum between toes. That’s why choosing to come here was so hard; I didn’t want to be this kind of selfish. My experience thus far with preparing for study abroad has shed some light on a new mentality. My motives for studying abroad are selfish: I’m doing this for myself – to improve my Spanish-speaking abilities, to gain more independence, to figure out my life, to grow stronger in my faith etc. Me, me, me. And you know what? That’s okay.

Because being selfish is not always a negative thing. Sometimes we need to do stuff for ourselves, especially when we’d be crazy not to. I look at what I’m doing here in a new light, one where being selfish is actually a good thing.


Because being here is a very good thing for me. And eventually (ojala que) it will be a good thing for everyone in my life, even the people who were the hardest to say adios to.


So no matter how hard I struggle with being here (and let me tell you so far it’s been awesome but who knows what these next few weeks hold) I’m reminding myself that I’m doing this one for me…and you know what? That’s totally fine.


By Emily Spring, USAC Chile, Fall 2014.

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