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Stepping Out of Your Comfort Zone

Posted by Eric Brenner on June 25th, 2010

An opportunity to expand beyond your comfort zone

Study abroad programs and internship opportunities should be in every college student’s “to do” list. Many times students are so engulfed into the college routine that they forget that college not only teaches academics, but also has the potential to provide lifetime lessons that can be far more rewarding than any class.

Every person that has shared with me their study abroad or internship experience has said they would do it again in a heartbeat if they had the chance.  Just imagine an opportunity to learn about another culture and language while you earn college credits.  Even better, you get to learn about a country from a local rather than a tourist perspective. Believe me, but there is a big difference.

Besides, as the world becomes more globalized, more and more employers are looking for potential employees with some kind of international experience and different language skills. There is a broad array of organizations all over the world that offer great internship opportunities for undergrads and graduate students.

It is true that finding the right study abroad or internship program can be a painstaking process, and many students feel intimidated by the possibility of getting out of their comfort zone. Fear of the unknown usually deters students to take a blind step into something that has the potential to be one of the best experiences of their lives.  I have heard my fair share of excuses – which don’t get me wrong some are very well founded – however, they could be easily resolved if some effort is put into it.

Costs and expenses are among the most common issues, but there are several mechanisms to help fund cost and expenses.  For instance, students in study abroad programs can get funding through scholarships, grants, federal and state financial aid, and other similar programs. Most universities have a study abroad department that has information available for students. Even for internships, many organizations pay the interns and even cover some, if not all expenses, and for organizations that do not offer paid internships, some of them offer room and board. There are several options that if well planned and researched could offer a great opportunity for students.

Right now, I am in Costa Rica working on my internship with the ministry of agriculture with the department of regional operations and extension services. Even though I am from here, this internship has allowed me to discover and see my country in a different way. Since I am part of the extension services, I have had the opportunity to visit remote areas of the country that I have never been before, or I would have never visited in a normal situation because they are not “touristy” or are too far away. However, it has been an amazing experience to discover areas that have not been spoiled by progress. People in these areas have a different perception of the world, and the feeling of community is so strong that they can make any stranger feel right at home.

In the agriculture development arena, there are many necessary components for the expansion of the agriculture industry, especially in developing nations. It includes the farmers, local producers, extension service agents, distributors, private sector, government officials, NGO’s (Non-Governmental Organizations), international entities, banks and financial institutions; talk about different career opportunities in agriculture. Even though these are small communities, visiting these places has been a great opportunity to understand agriculture development process from a macro dimension. All the different sectors work through a dynamic chain of components that serve as a platform that drives the agriculture industry. Without the collective efforts of all these entities, agriculture development would not be possible.

Internships and study abroad programs are great ways to get connected into your major. It gives you the opportunity to discover and have a better understanding of your career. Most importantly, it allows for you to better plan your future since it gives you a broader spectrum of possibilities.

During the next couple of weeks, I will keep you posted on how my internship progresses. I will be posting some pictures of the places that I will visit around the country during my stay.

Until then, have a great week.

About the Author: Eric Brenner is a graduate student at Texas A&M University and currently on a study-abroad trip to Costa Rica, his home-country.

4 Comments »

4 Responses to “Stepping Out of Your Comfort Zone”

  1. Hello, this blog is pretty informative. I found it through Google. I will be bookmarking this and coming back.


  2. Eric Brenner

    I’m glad to hear you like it. We launched the website about two months ago, but we are building membership at a pretty steady pace. Keep checking the website and the blog for new stuff. We certainly appreciate the feedback.


  3. Deborah Halvorson

    My mom gave me the link to this website, and she was totally right. Keep up the terrific work!


  4. Vicente Combs

    I was wondering if you might possibly figure out exactly what the midterm elections may possibly mean for free college scholarships. It feels the Republicans are likely to start looking to slash anything they could cut which most likely means awards for higher education. I don’t comprehend how they believe this country is ever going to remain competitive, if the actual price of higher education continues to go up, although grants get harder to get. It really is depressing to think I’ll be in debt $40,000 or even more along with not knowing if I can actually have a job after I graduate in this economy.

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