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David smiling in front of an arch in Madrid

Why Study Abroad?

by David O'Keeffe Monday, January 29, 2018

In just three days I will be departing to spend a semester abroad at the University of Carlos III in Madrid, Spain. As is always the case before traveling, I am excited, anxious, and have A LOT more packing to do!

Studying abroad is a unique life opportunity, and yet among my peers at Madison, it is quite common. So common in fact, that I think we start to lose touch with our internal motivations. It is easy to fall into a herd mentality, and repeat the things you've heard from friends and family. To differentiate "Why I am supposed to want to study abroad" versus my personal motivations, I have been contemplating one simple question... Why do I want to study abroad?

Of course, I love to travel! That could be it? A lot of my friends are studying abroad! It will be fun? I will get to finally use my 8 years of Spanish education! Not to mention that, as an international business major, I must study abroad to graduate. All good reasons... but not THE reason.

I go abroad for my love of the unknown. I go abroad for the daily excitement and stimulation that occurs when living in another country. I want to study abroad, because unlike any other college semester, I have no expectations holding me back.

A leatherbound journal 

I go abroad because there is nothing more exciting than a blank travel journal.  While I know, its pages will be full of exciting adventures, I can't even begin to imagine what they will be.

I go abroad for the little cultural surprises and differences that, while at first foreign, become a part of my daily lifestyle. I go for the shock of returning home and missing that now familiar custom.

Most importantly, I go abroad for the people I will meet and the relationships I will make. To learn about a different culture and see the world from a different viewpoint. A view that can put my American upbringing and life experiences in perspective. To learn more about what it means to be David O'Keeffe, from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. To immerse myself in another culture and learn what connects with me and what doesn't. To broaden my horizons in an increasing effort to become a citizen of the world.

If I knew how a new culture and adventure would affect me then I would read a book about Madrid and call it quits. So why go through the trouble of moving to Madrid for 4 months? Why do I want to study abroad? I guess the real answer is I don't know yet...

But I can't wait to find out!

David O’Keeffe is a junior studying international business, management, and entrepreneurship. To follow his personal blog visit: