My first experience abroad happened when I was 14. The ninth-grade end-of-the-year trip was to London, and I couldn’t be more excited. What was I going to see? I had been preparing for the trip all year long. World History class was exciting since I was going to be visiting some of the places we discussed. I was ready for this experience, and let’s just say, I wasn’t disappointed. I loved everything about London. The sights, the food, the people, etc. The experience was surreal! On the flight back home, I vowed I would be going abroad again. That’s right, I was bitten by the travel bug!
Fast-forward eight years, and here I am going abroad once again. This time I was participating a study abroad program with my university. I was off to Italy for an introductory course on Rhetoric. Of course, I faced multiple obstacles. First, I arrived later than everyone else. Four days later, to be exact. Second, after arriving in Italy, my luggage got delayed, so I had to go back to the airport a day after to get. It was a stressful start to the trip. However, I overcame those obstacles and ended up having a great time in Rome and Florence.
Studying abroad opened doors I didn’t even know I could walk through. In Italy, the world became my classroom. I got the opportunity to apply what I learned to the real world. I visited places where many of Italy’s greatest thinkers and artists spent their time. I saw the Statue of David and learned more about Michelangelo in the process. I marveled at one of Da Vinci’s earlier works. I took the time to embrace Italian culture. I did also pick up a few Italian phrases during my time there. I had a great time, and it was the most rewarding experiences I’ve ever had.
Honestly, I didn’t let the costs deter me from going abroad. It was something I desired after going to London. I knew what I wanted, and I went for it. I remember having the discussion with my mother, and telling her I wanted to go but the costs… it was heavy. But, she told me that if I didn’t go I would regret it. So, I applied and got accepted to the program. I was determined to make it happen. I worked throughout the summer to save up the money to pay off the trip. Soon enough, January came rolling around, and I was ready. I couldn’t wait to see what Italy, and the world, had to offer!
After Italy, I decided it wouldn’t be so bad to live and study abroad if given the chance. I applied to a school in the United Kingdom, and I got accepted. I’m thrilled to say it’s an adventure I can’t wait to embark on. Studying abroad allowed me to see what I really wanted to do for the rest of my life. Whether it's traveling the world and exploring its sights and wonders or going to school and making a life for myself, I wouldn’t have it any other way.
That’s why I encourage students, and everyone, to study or travel abroad. It’s the only experience that makes your richer, not in wealth, but in knowledge. If your school has an outstanding study abroad program, take advantage of it. If you're fresh out of college, go out there and explore the world! The world is your classroom.