The Trevi Fountain in Rome.
Ever since going to the midnight premiere of The Lizzie McGuire Movie in 5th grade, my obsession with Italy has been no secret. Not for the amazing history. Not to see the place where my ancestors lived before they traveled to America. No. I wanted to travel to Italy and be mistaken for a rock star, ultimately preforming at the biggest awards show of the year next to a beautiful (but deceiving) Italian singer named Pablo.
By the tenth time I saw the movie, I got the hint that it never could happen. My dreams were crushed, but I continued to watch the movie to live vicariously through my 5th grade idol, Lizzie. By the time I was in high school, I started noticing the beauty of Italy in other ways than Pablo. The Trevi Fountain, the Coliseum, the Spanish Steps, all the beautiful gardens and piazzas. Ah, the view from my living room couch was incredible.
Although I knew I would go someday, I never thought the opportunity would present itself so soon. Going out on a limb, I asked my parents if I could take a study abroad course to Italy. Surprisingly, they said yes.
After studying in America for four weeks, my classmates and I prepared ourselves for the adventure ahead of us. I’m going to skip all the details of the trip (my wish in the Trevi Fountain, the breathtaking history of the Coliseum, my romantic adventures with a hot Italian that doesn’t exist), because although those created memories to last a lifetime, they were not the highlight of my trip.
Studying abroad affected me in countless ways. The lessons I learned are ones I promised myself I would keep with me forever. Here are three of the ways that studying abroad affected me:
• Increased diversity. When I returned to America, I started to question my relationships with the people around me. I wanted to become friends with all different types of people. According to an article by Mary Dwyer, the president of the Institute for the International Education of Students (IES), a company that provides students with study abroad programs and internships, 90% of students who do a study abroad session seek out a greater diversity of friends.
• Interculturally. My worldview changed. I started to look at things from an outside perspective while understanding the views that I already had because of my culture. Dwyer also reported that 98% of students who study abroad better understand their cultural values and biases.
• Personally. I started to appreciate the things I had more and really value the good people and opportunities in my life. In Italy, everyone was so happy to be alive. Here, it seems as though we would rather have an iPhone 5 than make memories with the people we love. I made a promise to myself that I would live like those people did. I would only surround myself with good hearts and intentions, and truly genuine people.
Studying abroad is an experience you can’t understand until you’ve done it. It truly does affect the way you see the world and treat those around you.
If you’d like to study abroad, check out the programs your university has to offer. If they don’t offer study-abroad courses, check out IES’s website.
Powered by Facebook Comments