The Modern Study Abroad for Grown Ups

By: Naomi Matlow

Whether you studied abroad, “studied” abroad (i.e. drank your way through 3 months in Munich), or never went to college at all, you are registered in the school of life. And there are no prerequisites, no freshman starter packs, and no quiet hours. We have heard time and time again that an Unsettled retreat is like studying abroad for grown ups and your fellow participants become your peers on this learning journey.

Imagine a study abroad experience with your prefrontal cortex in full? According to neuroscience, the prefrontal cortex, where neuroscientists believe our executive functioning lies, is not fully developed until around age 25. As the publisher of Forbes magazine, Rich Karlgaard, writes in his recent book, Late Bloomers, about his own college experience, “my brain, literally, was not ready to bloom.” But guess what, it’s blooming now…


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When you are spending designated time to focus on yourself, in the midst of new surroundings, with peers and solo travelers from all over the world, many of whom are actively looking for the same things as you, that creates a community of value and purpose unlike many networks that can be cultivated in other environments. Like being dropped in the middle of a quad across the ocean, everyone is out of their element but in the most profound way.

From the day you arrive on an Unsettled retreat, there is an immediate peer-to-peer element. In a vibrant, new environment you will meet 15-20 people working in creative industries, eager to ask big questions about life and share their knowledge and life experience with you. It’s a peer study group, and the topic is life.


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Unlike your last study abroad experience, we’re all adults now. No one stands up to lecture you on the making of foreign policy or the War of 1812. We expect everyone to co-create this experience. We invite all Unsettlers to share any of their knowledge and expertise (nothing is too big or too small) with the group. From landscape drawing in Buenos Aires, travel hacks in Nicaragua, or how to make the perfect crepe in Tuscany, everybody has something to contribute or share. Even just attending a workshop by a fellow Unsettler garners you an A+ in our books. No one will ask you to follow the flag at the front of the pack. We lead from behind. We co-create experiences because there are many lifetimes of experiences within the group already.


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So many college students aspire to study abroad for the adventure and fresh perspective (a study hall in Singapore has got to be cooler than my regular campus!) and this is something you will no doubt reignite in yourself on an Unsettled experience. But perhaps at this point, now more than ever, you are seeking a space to step outside of yourself for a brief period. Maybe so many of your school of life classmates back home are at a different life stage than you are. Marriage, having children, or working too damn hard, and you’re itching to wake up at sunrise in a foreign land and try a food you can’t pronounce. But you don’t want to do it alone. That’s where we come in.  

Experimenting and uncovering what we individually need to be our best selves is a neverending college course and a lifetime of learning and becoming. Your life is your greatest science experiment, your longest philosophy paper, sometimes a group project, but ultimately your final graduate thesis written by you and you alone.

Does this sound like what you are looking for?

Step into your registrar’s office here.


Unsettled is a global community for those who live and work differently. 

Growth | Meaning | Adventure

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