For many of us who will be going into our junior years at Vassar, we recently found out that we will be spending at least part of that year in a different country! For me, I’ll be heading to Italy and it’ll be the longest I’ve been both without my family and outside of the United States. If you need some convincing about studying abroad and why I think it’s an invaluable experience, hopefully my blog here will do the trick.
Firstly, when in your life will you ever be able to leave the United States for months at a time again? We’re in our twenties; we’re about to go off into the world and try to do amazing things which will undoubtedly take a lot of our time and consequently result in more responsibilities. Right now is really the only time when an opportunity like this will be provided for us and I’m extremely grateful for it.
Secondly, if you want to gain a firmer grasp on your foreign language skills (assuming you’re going to a country in which the inhabitants don’t speak English) then this is the best way to immerse yourself in that language. As someone who’s been studying Italian for a couple of years now, I’m thrilled to be able to study at the oldest university in the world in Bologna. When I go, I’m going to make a commitment to speak English as infrequently as possible. Maybe I’ll just walk through the city and get lost, taking in the language at every corner.
We’re going to be able to live in a country whose culture may be very different than our own, and that is essential to one’s education. As much as we can read about other nations in books, nothing can substitute actually going out and doing our own exploring of the world. I am especially looking forward to the cuisine in Bologna. There is so much beauty to the world with regard to architecture, different types of social interactions, history, art, and more. We’ve been given this time to really become knowledgeable about how people across the globe live, and what better way is there to learn about the world then to actually see it?
One of the biggest suggestions that I’ve gotten from friends who’ve studied abroad is to go out and have adventures! What’s the point of spending time in Europe or Asia if you’re just going to hang out with other Americans? Not only should you explore the immediate area, but if possible, try to see other countries. If you plan to study abroad in Europe, there are so many different cultures so close to each other. So have a pretzel in Munich, a beer in Ireland, and pasta in Italy while you can!
While you’re enjoying your time abroad, it might also be a good idea to keep a record of what your doing. Take a ton of pictures from start to finish, or maybe even keep a journal. That way when you go home, you can share your experiences with family and friends. Nowadays, it’s so easy to create a presentation that will allow those close to you to experience a little of what you did. More importantly, you’ll be able to look back on your experiences later in life and remember all the fun adventures you had and all the friends you made.
Studying abroad creates memories that will undoubtedly last a lifetime, and I don’t plan to pass up the opportunity. Buon viaggio!