Time Abroad: Fall 2009
My most memorable experience from studying abroad is a small one, but I will never forget how good it made me feel. I was taking a day trip to Bologna and was walking through one of the cars on the four hour train ride. I feel a tap on my shoulder and turned around. It was a woman, and I could tell she was blind when I noticed her white cane. She asked me which car number we are in. I answered her and she said thank you.
Since then I had had both good and bad experiences with the Italian language with a varying success rate communicating with Italians. In this case, though, I understood exactly what the woman was asking, and just how to answer her. However minor this interaction was, it gave me such satisfaction to have been able to help someone using the language skills that I had been so unsure of. It reminded me of the value of commonplace interactions in learning about another culture.
If you are considering going abroad, I would say that you will be happy you took advantage of the opportunity now. Not to say that the chance to live abroad or travel will never come again, because it certainly will, but there is something so special about being a student abroad. Though you may be in a small program or a small location, you feel connected to something bigger than yourself. Students have been traveling and studying abroad for generations because it is the perfect way to learn more about the world.
I am taking with me, into my future, an ability to understand people much better. I think the exposure to different personalities, cultural attitudes and outlooks really helps define my own views on life. I am better able to work with different people and put myself in their shoes. It helps to be able to understand how people react in certain situations, and use this knowledge to become a more flexible and optimistic person yourself.