Time Abroad: August 2009 - July 2010
Major: International Studies, Italian
Every experience within my year abroad, good and bad, contributed exponentially and irreplaceably to my overall experience and in retrospect, helped shape me into the person I have become today. If asked to speak of one experience however, I would choose to talk about a trip I took with friends to Munich for a few days during the second semester. It was a relatively spur of the moment decision, thanks to a German friend we made during the first semester in Bologna who convinced us to make the trek up north. This trip not only opened my eyes to yet another country with which I was unfamiliar, but allowed me to discover my favorite European city thus far. One of the most rewarding experiences of studying abroad is undoubtedly the multitude of opportunities that you will have to travel. I was lucky during my stay, and over the course of the year was able to travel from the Czech Republic, through Holland, Germany, Paris, Austria, as well as my home country of Italy. This trip to Munich however, sparked something within me. It may well have been because of the phenomenal company that I was in (the majority of whom I became acquainted with while studying in Bologna). Without them, I would never have had the experience I did and even though I loved Munich, the experience would never have been as rich had I not shared the experience with them.
If you're thinking of studying abroad? My advice is -- Go. Even if you're scared, even if you're worried about graduating on time. Go. That is my only advice. Be aware though, that any fear and uncertainty that you have will most likely be with you for a substantial part of your experience. THIS IS A GOOD THING. You will emerge a stronger, more open individual and the pride you feel for accomplishing such a feat will overwhelm you even years after your return. This might not be the best experience of your life, but it will help you reach those that will be, and that will shape who you are and the future you are destined to have.
Along with the boost in self-confidence and language skills, I have to say the most valued treasures that I will take away from my experience abroad are the friends I've made. Along with Italians, this past year I was able to forge an unbreakable bond with students from all over Europe, especially with those who were there with me for the entire scholastic year. We became family, and I am so lucky to have found them and to have established relationships the way that we did. It's incredible that after only one year I have bonded so strongly with people who continue to remind me of how big the world really is, even after I've returned to DU.