The Impact of Study Abroad

As I write this final blog post, I am sitting on a train watching the sun set illuminate the Tuscan mountains as we fly by. This place is beautiful, not only because of the scenery, but also because of the memories I will forever share with this place. It’s all so bittersweet. It’s like the saying, “Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.” And for every tear I have shed this past week and for the ones I know are to come in the spirit of nostalgia, there were many more laughs and tons more smiles. So, as hard as it is for me to write this post, here are all the ways studying abroad has made an impact in my life.

Trevi Fountain

Friendship

A place is only as great as the people in it. That is what has made Italy so special for me. Every day I was able to wake up with endless possibilities about what Italian-ism I would learn that day all the while knowing that there was a support group of people there to back me up or scream at the top of my lungs with or binge watch Stranger Things. Those people I got scammed with in Paris, those people who were lost in Berlin with me at three in the morning. Those people who traversed a fun house in Amsterdam with me like children. Those are the people that made this place so special and noteworthy. It would not have been the same experience without them.

Thankfulness

I did not get here on my own. I realize fully that me being here is fully through God. He laid a path and he has a plan for what this will do to my life. He spoke to those people who gave me words of encouragement or funding to get me through the semester. Every night walking home from babysitting, I would just ponder over the amazing state of my life. I would wonder how God could make something as small as babysitting children have an impact on me. I would wonder how he could create such beautiful oceans and mountains and cityscapes. The most breath-taking moments I had were realizing how thankful I was to get to see the world. I am so grateful and humbled to have had this experience.

Ethnocentrism

I know this may come as a surprise to some people, but America just is not the best. Now, I’m not saying it’s horrible (that would be a polar opposite instead of a logical opposite – LSAT where you at?) but there is just such a big wide world out there with so many different great ideas. There are so many things I will miss from Europe that I just cannot get back home. That being said, there are so many things and people I missed from back home that I could never get in Europe. You win some and you lose some. My point being, open-mindedness is essential. It is so important to appreciate the world and different cultures for what they are. Comparison is the killer of progress. Near the beginning of this trip, I had a difficult time adjusting to Italian life because I kept thinking about life back home and wondering which I liked better. You know what? Neither place is best. I just had to accept Italy the way it is and I am so glad I did.

Be Present

We live in a finite world. Our lives are precious. Every second that passes is one more that we should be thankful to be on this gorgeous planet with incredible people. But we do not always see that because we grow complacent. I’m that way. There are so many times that I have stayed in bed all day just because I can. But that leaves me with one more day gone away from my very finite life. Study abroad gave me a timeline. I was given four months to explore Europe and learn more about myself. Something I learned in the very beginning of this journey is the importance of taking it slow. Instead of looking forward to the coming day, I was able to relax and just enjoy the present. I was able to take in my surroundings and get to know people and try new things.

Calling

The most nagging feelings I had while abroad was the suspension that I do not deserve any of this. I still wonder if I do. It is hard to feel comfortable being truly happy knowing that there are people out in this world starving or people who will never be able to afford going to college let alone study abroad. And maybe it is non-PC for me to feel guilty. I’m really not sure. But I do know that privilege got me here. That being said, the realization that my privilege plays an integral part in my life really made me understand that it is important to make a difference. Today I might be a broke college student, but tomorrow I could be a lawyer helping defend human rights or the mom of a child that was left without a home. The possibilities are endless. But knowing this privilege and seeing it in action, whether it was passing refugee families in the street or seeing men struggling to sell roses just to get by, really shows me that I cannot be complacent. I came to Italy to learn more about the world. Now I can go make a difference.

 

And that is all folks. My time in Arezzo has come to a close. To see more about my adventures, follow me on Instagram or give me an email shout out.

Arrivederci!

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