3 Ways Studying Abroad Made Me a Better Person

3 Ways Studying Abroad Made Me a Better Person

Pizza. Gelato. Pasta. Did I mention pizza? I’d be lying if I said my initial reasons for choosing to study abroad in Italy weren’t somewhat superficial. When I took the amazing opportunity to study in Rome during my sophomore year, I quickly learned that study abroad is so much more than delicious food and boat rides on the Amalfi Coast. It was the single most empowering experience of my life. Here’s why:

1—I was culture-shocked out of my comfort zoneCulture shock is something that everyone worries about when traveling to a new country. For me, it was the best part of my study abroad experience! I crave situations that force me out of my comfort zone. That is when I grow the most as a person. Instead of stressing about the language barrier, I saw shopping as an opportunity to learn new Italian phrases in order to speak to the cashier. Navigating the confusing public transportation system was an opportunity to immerse myself in the bustling street life. For every time I messed up the double cheek kiss or said the wrong word in Italian, it resulted in me learning from my cultural faux pas. Within no time, I felt confident in my ability to navigate my new Italian life.

 

 2—I lived in the momentI can’t count how many times I’ve been out at dinner and saw everyone on their iPhone instead of socializing with their table. I love social media as much as the next person, but there’s something to be said for being completely present in the moment. My time abroad had an end date, so I savored every second of it. I ate each pastry and plate of pasta like it was my last. When I began dating an amazing Roman guy, I didn’t focus on the fact that we would have to part ways in the near future. I simply said yes to every adventure he planned for us. Instead of rushing to school in the mornings, I slowed down to take in the details of the architecture. There are times I regret not taking more pictures and videos of the beautiful sights around me. However, I was so mindful of my surroundings that my memories are as vivid as can be.

3—I appreciated the little things. Because everything was foreign, even the easiest of tasks was a struggle. That’s why correctly ordering a cappuccino in Italian, finding a new restaurant that felt like home or simply not getting lost called for a celebration. And that’s not just because I love any excuse to open up a bottle of wine! I truly believe that life is much more fulfilling when you appreciate the small successes you have each day.

Have you studied abroad? If so, what did you gain from your experience? Let me know in the comments below!