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Connecting Study Abroad in Rome to Life After Graduation

As a college student, studying abroad is a chance to broaden horizons to the rest of the world. While getting caught up in the preparation of filling out paperwork and premeditating adventures, the main thought on the mind is traveling and having fun. This opportunity that many of us students are lucky enough to have is much more than that. Being able to spend time not only visiting, but living in another country is a completely life changing experience.  I’d say it’s a series of indefinite steps that creates this “life change.”
Quite apparently, this change starts with getting to the other country. Culture shock is probably the first step to life change. In my personal experience, I found culture shock to be very personal. Everyone experiences it a bit differently but the main point is to understand how to live out of your element. Coming from the U.S.A., everything seems to decrease in size when you come to Europe. Being able to accommodate to what is available to you is a huge step.
The second step is the attempt to embrace your surroundings. To just be in another country is far different than living and embracing a new place. Even simple efforts to listen to the language when others are talking or to simply explore wherever you are will help. To absorb and be aware is the best way to learn.
Last, but certainly not least, where do the experiences we have take us? The answer is wherever you want them to. Personally my travels have broadened my horizons. Being abroad helps to create a realization that there is so much more out there then just where we live. In our own future what we choose to take from the worldly experiences we have will help us soar. Some people never have the opportunity to travel, and this difference makes those who have stand out.  After graduation, there are many life-changing experiences we can take with us. However, the term “life changing” is used lightly considering it is a personal choice with no limits as to where this experience can take you. Having worldly experience should help an individual to become more well rounded, and have a more open mindset. This simple aspect is why people say those who study abroad are “changed.” We can use the experiences we’ve had to take us above and beyond in our future endeavors, so remember while abroad to enjoy and embrace every single moment.

Dana Bartone is the Spring 2013 CEA MOJO in Rome, Italy

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