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Push Yourself out of Your Comfort Zone by Studying Abroad

Gunnar Fairbairn’21 talks about his year in Estonia and why other students should consider studying abroad.

Gunnar Fairbairn with Beloit College T-shirt Gunnar Fairbairn with Beloit College T-shirt Credit: Gunnar older's sisterGunnar Fairbairn’21 majors in Education and Youth Studies and like many Beloit students studied abroad in his junior year. Gunnar smiles and says, “Thanks to Beloit for your full support and guidance when I was studying abroad in Estonia. I really appreciate Beloit College’s efforts to keep track of students who study abroad”.

Intrigued by Estonia’s strong education system and the seriousness with which Estonians students approach their studies, Estonia’s strengths in technology, public transportation, and communication were also attractive. “It was so effortless for me to travel from one place to another in Estonia because public transportation was easy to find.” Being able to communicate with local students in Estonia was also a plus.

Taking a sauna after class. Taking a sauna after class. Credit: Timer photoWhile enrolled at the University of Tartu, Gunnar focused on language study. He also enjoyed biking, walking, and going out with Estonian and Russian friends. However, he especially misses saunas. “My friends and I liked to spend time reading books and talking while taking a sauna. It was a quiet and affordable place for students”. He also suggests that no matter the challenges students face while studying or traveling abroad, “learning the local culture is a must.”

A group photo after finishing class. A group photo after finishing class. Credit: Timer photoWhy should students study abroad? Gunnar suggests three reasons. First, studying abroad can help students to experience new environments, languages, and cultures. Second, studying abroad accelerates language acquisition through interactions with native speakers. Last but not least, studying abroad can push students to leave their comfort zones. “I challenged myself to do something that I had never done before. That helped me to identify  my long-term goals.” Additionally, he is now both more confident and more open to other cultures. “Studying abroad in Estonia brought me to a new world with new people. I learned new things every single moment.” 

Moon Sum’24
December 20, 2020

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