I studied abroad in a town called Wurzburg in the state of Bavaria in Germany. I chose this location because it seemed convenient. It sits near the center of Germany and made traveling to many locations pretty easy. It also seemed like it had a good language program and the town sounded beautiful and like a good place to live for a while. I found all the above to be true.
My number one goal was to drastically improve my German. I definitely was able to accomplish that. Although I am still very far from perfect, I reached a level of competency while I was there that I am quite proud of. I also wanted to step out of my comfort zone socially and learn to be comfortable in situations that I would normally be very uncomfortable in. Here again, I definitely was able to do this even though it was not always easy. I learned to be much more outgoing and talk to people that I barely knew fairly easily despite the fact that I am naturally very introverted and have a hard time approaching people.
Just in general, through living on my own so far away from home, I grew so much as a person and am so grateful that I was lucky enough to have had this once in a lifetime experience. There was a group of students at the university that I attended who planned lots of fun day trips and weekend excursions. I was able to visit many wonderful towns in Germany and beyond with them as my tour guides and fellow international students from all over the world as my companions. All of those opportunities were wonderful ways to get to know other students and to experience Europe to the fullest. I also did some trips on my own or with a friend. Those were also really amazing experiences. I loved traveling around Europe and just seeing the sights and the people and hearing the foreign languages.
Studying abroad will force you out of your comfort zone like nothing else can. It is an irreplaceable and indescribable learning experience in so many different ways from the people you meet to the places you see to the history that comes alive around you. It will be far from perfect and there will days when you will feel frustrated and lonely. But it will undoubtedly be worth it all in the end when you can look back and realize how much more knowledgeable and well-rounded of a person you have become through it all. The advice that I would give to any student heading into a study abroad experience is first of all, choose to stay positive. And secondly, take every opportunity that comes along. You will not regret it. The quality of your experience is entirely up to you.