This I Believe…
Every Student Should Study Abroad
My roommate and I hopped into the cab. We didn’t know where we were going; we didn’t know the language. The driver had to translate to our host mom for us. He dropped us off. We didn’t know where we were, and we couldn’t communicate with our new mom. We’d been in Florence for four days, and this is where we would be for the next four months. We’d just met our “mom” ten minutes earlier, and now were confused, alone with her, standing on the corner of what we learned to be our apartment building.
I didn’t know what I was getting myself into when I decided to study abroad. I’d never spoken Italian; I’d never been to Italy. I’d never been so far away from home, and I’d never been on my own for so long. I knew pasta, and I knew wine, and I was excited about the opportunity that was before me.
Studying abroad was a gratifying way to discover a new culture and to grow as an individual. Living with a host family, learning a new language, visiting museums, shopping the markets, and eating endless amounts of gelato, was full emersion into the Italian culture. Weekend traveling was more emersion into the European culture.
I sent my parents postcards from every city I visited and of every piece of art I fell in love with. It was the easiest way to show them what I was experiencing – an experience I didn’t think could be so amazing.
There was a lot of confusion at first, a lot of hand motions and noises at the dinner table, a lot of wondering what I got myself into. But upon the end of my four months abroad, there were no regrets.
As I started to understand the culture and language more, there was a lot less hand motions and noises at the dinner table, and more conversation and laughter. My host family became a real family to me.
After a few weeks I was able to lose the map and wander the streets of Florence without fear. Italy became home to me.
Everything abroad I fell in love with. I came home with a suitcase of souvenirs, a never ending amount of stories and more pictures than my scrapbook can hold.
My experience abroad was more than I could have imagined. Living and learning a new culture changed me. It helped me grow; made me more cultured, and provided me with a lifetime of treasured memories.
I wouldn’t be the person I am today without my experience in Italy. I didn’t know what I was getting myself into when I decided to study abroad; I just went in for the experience, one which turned out to be unforgettable. Hence, this I believe, every student should study abroad.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.