By Viktoria Ristanovic
Nation & World Editor
After spending three weeks abroad in Italy during a Maymester program this past spring and summer, I came back as a changed person. The way I viewed culture, history and the world was completely different from the way I viewed life before my trip.
The first thing that hit me the second I landed in Rome were the cultural differences. Most of us are used to American culture and our own family traditions, but studying abroad gave me the chance to see other cultures and perspectives in the world.
Living abroad, even if it’s not for an entire semester, gave me a completely different experience than what I would get had I gone on vacation. In Rome, I lived in an apartment for around two weeks with three other girls. In Florence, I was in a hotel with a roommate for four days.
Studying abroad helped me gain a sense of independence. I was given a place to live for a set time and I got the chance to learn about the neighborhood and discover my favorite coffee shop and dinner spot down the street.
When I came back home, I noticed the way I viewed life was altered, but in the best way possible. I felt more independent and lighter on my feet. I felt accomplished. I had just lived in Italy — a country I’ve never been in — for three weeks and absolutely thrived there. Throwing myself into a new, unknown environment gave me a sense of independence. This kind of experience matured me and gave me the seeds of confidence I needed to continue growing individually and intellectually.
Going abroad benefitted me in the professional world as well. Living in a different country while completing my degree served as a great addition my resume. It highlighted that I am open to different ideas and able to adapt to new environments.
Exploring a different country while you are not tied down with work and adult responsibilities is absolutely unforgettable. The memories you make are beyond priceless. Experiencing a culture that is not your own is something every college student should experience.