This I Believe

Lindsey - Ellicott City, Maryland
Entered on December 11, 2006
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: tolerance

This I Believe

This past spring, I was fortunate enough to have to the chance to study abroad in Rome, Italy. For four months, I lived in an apartment in the northeastern section of the so called “eternal city” with five other students, one of which was Italian. To say living there was a good experience would be an understatement. It was life-changing.

Those four months abroad taught me something of great importance. It taught me to appreciate the rest of the world for its differences, whether it is the food, customs, behavior, or any other small detail that seems unusual. It taught me to appreciate ancient architecture, such as the Colosseum which has been standing since 72 A.D., and timelessly exquisite art, like the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel painted by Michelangelo. In short, it taught me to believe in travel.

I now understand what people mean when they say you have caught the “travel bug.” It’s almost as if the more you see of the world, the more you realize you have seen so little. I spent most of my savings on traveling to other foreign cities, including Paris, Prague, Budapest, and Barcelona. In addition to the major metropolitan areas, I visited small, rural towns in Italy that amazed me with their simple yet absolutely wonderful lifestyle.

By traveling to these relatively few countries in Europe, I was able to gain valuable knowledge on people and places. Not only did I see incredible, historic sites, but also I met so many interesting people from all over. For instance, while out one night in Prague, I was introduced to people from Germany, France, Brazil, and the Congo. The fact that they all spoke fluent English made it easy for me, but it also made me realize how little I knew of their native countries.

Many new interests and beliefs have developed since my semester in Europe, but the one that I am certain of is the significance of travel. I have formed new attitudes and broadened my views since my arrival in Rome last January. In a world where phenomena such as globalization and foreign affairs are increasingly relevant, knowledge and openness to different cultures everywhere is exceedingly important. Perhaps American writer Miriam Beard said it best when she stated “certainly, travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living.”