Claire Houser: Business

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Claire Houser on a boat in Greece

My focus for this blog post is on the Big Five Personality Types and using them to discuss my study abroad experience. Before I came to Greece, I had romanticized the whole study abroad experience; I thought about the beautiful blue ocean and a feeling of overall peace. Although I have felt peace since I have been here and have been able to enjoy the beautiful ocean views, it has also been a very intense experience for me. I have been reflecting on my experience so far with study abroad, and through learning about the big five personality traits, I believe some personalities are more suited for study abroad than others. That being said, I believe one can step out of their comfort zone if their personality is not as suited; that is if they truly want it.

First I believe it’s important to understand the Big Five Personality traits. They are as follows: conscientiousness, agreeableness, neuroticism, openness, and extraversion. (Colquitt) After taking the test on the Big Five, I found that I rank normal on conscientiousness, high on agreeableness, above average on neuroticism, high on openness, and lower on extraversion. (These results were in no way a shock to me as I’m very self aware.)

In terms of my experience traveling, I myself have experienced traveling to a different country, and I’ve experienced being away from home for an extended period of time. That being said, studying abroad hasn’t exactly been a smooth sailing experience for me… While I have had a wonderful experience, I have had to face some challenges that I had not anticipated. As an introvert who sometimes struggles to get out of their comfort zone, I have had some trouble navigating my experience. I knew that going into an experience abroad without knowing anyone would be a difficult experience; however I am pretty good at making friends; it just takes me a bit to open up. This is a great example of me struggling with extraversion.

Beyond socially, one thing I didn’t anticipate was the fear of not having control over certain situations. I think this could be put in the category of conscientiousness, as I don’t like things being unorganized; however this could also be in the category of neuroticism as I get anxious with change. Some things don’t go exactly as planned and this is a part of life; this is something that I am constantly learning how to manage.I have had to learn how to go with the flow more and to let go of certain things. A good example of this was dealing with motion sickness for many days as there were many bus rides. I struggled with not feeling well, but I knew I had to push through.

Another example of not having control overall was getting used to a new environment; Greece is a beautiful place, but it is hard to go from what you know, to a completely unfamiliar place for an extended period of time. This was a challenge, but I believe challenges make you a stronger person. This is another example of Neuroticism as it relates to anxiety.

Another thing that I had not considered, is how intense school can be when it is in such a short period of time on many days that are busy. It is hard to manage being tired and getting through, staying motivated, and keeping it together. This again is a great example of neuroticism as I struggle with anxiety.

Something that I have been very grateful for is how understanding my professors have been. As my professors have been through study abroad, they understand that it can be quite intense; and therefore they have always been willing to help.

I would like to emphasize that while studying abroad is wonderful, you have to be open to challenges. Some of these things may be more of a challenge to others depending on their personality types. I believe that if you are someone who struggles with change and flexibility and are a bit of an introvert, studying abroad can be a more of a challenging experience, but it is not impossible. If you truly want to study abroad I believe it is possible; but I believe that you should try to prepare yourself for these challenges that you may face if you identify with these personality traits I have mentioned above.

Overall I believe that when I look back at study abroad later in life; I will be able to say that I was able to persevere through challenges. Challenging yourself is important; although I did not anticipate all of these challenges, I am grateful I have faced them because I am able to look back and say that I conquered getting out of my comfort zone.