In Retrospect: 10 Takeaways From My Study Abroad Experience

Over the past 75 days I have embarked on a journey of a lifetime. Exploring Europe. While studying in Rome, Italy Monday thru Thursday, my weekends have consisted of crosschecking the continent visiting different cities and countries, creating memorable, lifelong experiences and memories along the way. As of today, there are 15 days left in this adventure. Although excited to come home, I can confidently say that this trip has forever changed who I am. I have a new appreciation for life and how it is meant to be lived.

Below are 10 ways that my study abroad experience has positively changed who I am today.

1. It humbled me. It broke me down physically, mentally, and emotionally. 

Never have I felt so vulnerable. For the first time in my life I was the foreigner not the native. It was their country not mine.

2. It exposed me to more cultures than just my own. 

From the close-knit neighborhoods in London to the unrivaled cuisine right around the corner in Rome, I have left a piece of my heart in every city that I have visited.

3. It forced me to explore and try new things. 

I have discovered passions that I never knew I had; stories and experiences that will never be forgotten. I challenged myself and intentionally went outside of my comfort zone.

4. It smashed my stereotypes of other people and cultures.

My preconceived notions about other people and cultures couldn’t have been more inaccurate. If you have an open mind and willingness to learn, you can learn something from everyone that you meet.

5. It forced me to meet new people and develop new friendships

The amount of people that I have met along this journey has been incredible. I have met people from all over the world; each with a unique story and past experiences.

6. It forced me to become more independent.

I really didn’t have a choice. If I wanted to eat, I had to brave the grocery store. If I wanted to travel, I had to book my own flights. If I wanted to communicate, I had to act like I knew Italian.

7. It showed me that there is more than one way to live my life. 

Simply put, why is life meant to be lived in one place?

8. It built my confidence.

Never before have I felt so confident in myself. If I can survive for three months in a foreign country with people I had never previously met, what can’t I do?

9. It taught me that the most memorable experiences are often unplanned.

Where do I ever begin with this one. It seems that all of my greatest memories were a result of spur of the moment planning. Sometimes you just need to leave the map behind, trust your instincts, and explore. What’s the worst that could happen?

10. It showed me how large and beautiful our world actually is.

From hiking the Dolomites to relaxing on the beaches of the Amalfi Coast, this journey has opened my eyes to the diverse beauty that our world has to offer. A different culture, a different country is only a 2-hour flight away.

______

I can confidently say that the past three months have been the most exciting three months of my life. Studying abroad has been one of the best decisions I have ever made. It is something that I am eternally grateful for and feel extremely privileged to have participated in. My friends, please remember one thing… Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.