Incorporating travel within my education beginning my Freshman year was something that I will always be proud of myself for doing. Taking an upper-level course with upperclassmen during my Freshman year so that I could travel over Spring Break, was something that most first-year students shy away from. Since taking that leap, I have been non-stop on the go and wanting to see the world as much as I can. From the Netherlands, to Australia, to Dubai, and to Florence, Italy, I have learned so much about myself and about the world around me that I had not known before.
I find that traveling while pursuing your education is the best of both worlds, you get to see the beauty of different countries while also studying your chosen courses. It is also the most inexpensive way to travel at such a young age, which is why I have fully taken advantage of that opportunity. There is a famous quote that, “The world is your classroom,” which I strongly agree with. Italy, was my classroom, literally and figuratively. I learned information based on my major of Political Science, within the classroom, but also learned about the world outside of the classroom. I learned about Italian history while touring Pompeii and Italian culture while practicing my Italian with locals. I learned how to navigate around the city of Florence and how to use the train system to travel to other parts of Italy, and I learned more about myself while meeting people from various different backgrounds.
Aside from language barriers or deciphering transportation possibilities, there are other small but significant things that will definitely challenge you while abroad. I think that is why I enjoy being in different cultures, to be challenged. Some of these challenges include: getting to know new roommates from all over the world, beginning to dress the way that is appropriate for the culture, understanding that cultures have different beliefs than your own personal beliefs, and also trying out the new foods that you may not be used to. Taking on these challenges is what shapes your experience abroad, and also shapes you into the person you become post-studying abroad.
Post-abroad, I have become addicted to seeing the world. I cannot wait to make a life of traveling and experiencing new people and new places. Italy has lead me to appreciate living in a small city as opposed to my country hometown, it has lead me to taste new foods that I was too nervous to beforehand, and has lead me to better understand the Italian political system and their role within the European Union and the outside world. This is important to understand in order to further my education for my degree in Politics. Italy has prepared me for the world, personally and educationally.
New cultures test your patience, your problem-solving skills, and encourage you to better understand a culture outside of your own. I believe that traveling while in my undergrad allows me to become one-step above other candidates in the work force. St. Augustine once said, “The world is a book and those who do not travel, read only one page.” I am extremely grateful of my time studying, living, and embracing the Italian culture this past Spring semester, and I highly recommend all students to study abroad at least once during their college career. I would also like to thank Marymount University Center for Global Education for allowing me this opportunity and pushing for me to make the most of my semester abroad!