University of Arizona
Prague, Czech Republic
1. How has your study abroad experience shaped you today?
I can't even begin to explain how my study abroad experience has affected my life. Before Prague, I had never traveled outside the United States, other than to Israel on a Birthright trip. Traveling around Europe for a semester has been extremely eye-opening to how incredibly fortunate I am to have been raised in the United States. And, seeing parts of the world I’ve always dreamed of seeing has been a true blessing. I think it is safe to say I’ve fallen in love with Europe, and leaving Prague was difficult. During my stay in Europe, I encountered many cultural shocks but none were negative. Well, besides having to pay to use a public restroom and pay for water, but that’s beside the point. Europe’s architecture, culture, and overall sense of place is completely different than the United States. Studying abroad has taught me that there are many other places around the world where people live a completely different lifestyle than Americans do. It’s so hard to imagine until you actually experience it first-hand. Coming out of this experience, I am more open to opportunities I never thought I’d be open to. I’m a more grounded person and I see myself in an entirely different way than ever before. The friendships I’ve made along the way I will cherish forever. These people have helped me escape the part of me that was stuck inside the “American bubble.” I am forever grateful for this experience, and I hope to return to Europe in the near future.
2. If you had 60 seconds to convince a friend that they should study abroad, what would you say?
You have to study abroad because there is no reason to not study abroad. The experience of a lifetime is at your fingertips, and it’s all on you to make the first move. I always knew I wanted to study abroad when I first learned about the opportunity my freshman year. The seniors in my sorority couldn’t stress enough that it’s a must. They created unforgettable memories with their peers and I couldn’t wait for it to be my turn. Now, here I am, at the end of my study abroad program and I couldn’t be happier. This experience has been everything I’ve dreamed of and more. This is an opportunity you cannot pass by because it will change your life. You’ll realize so many interesting things about yourself that you would’ve never thought existed. I went skydiving… scary, huh? Well, it was one of the greatest moments of my entire life. This is the time in your life to experiment and try something new. So why not step it up and experience life in an entirely different atmosphere. Better yet, go alone. I’ve met so many amazing people on this trip and I can’t imagine going with a friend from my university or from home; I don’t think the experience would be the same. I’m not saying don’t go with a friend, but if you really want to get out of your comfort zone, I highly recommend going it alone. There are so many opportunities and experiences outside of the United States, so go see for yourself, you won’t regret it.