This post comes from Mia Winfree who is from Oklahoma State University. Mia is anEnvironmental Sciences major, studying in Rome, Italy
Why study abroad? To make new friends? To explore a new city? There are many reasons to study abroad and what you will gain I can’t put into words just yet. I have been abroad for three weeks now and I have already made memories that will last a lifetime, met the most incredibly kind people and tried out the look of a local. At first, the thought of taking on a new country alone might be nerve- wracking but I’m convinced that nerves are the most important part. That’s how you know you’re growing. You’re stepping outside of your comfort zone and opening the door to an endless amount of possibilities. Since being in Rome, I have learned so much about myself and my own culture. I believe the best way to learn about your own culture is to immerse yourself in someone else’s, which is just what I have done.
After only three weeks, I have mastered the Roman bus system, re-learned how to cross the street (the drivers here are fast and assertive), made friends at the local restaurants, and I have even learned a bit of Italian. It is so refreshing to listen and hear a language other than English being spoken around me, that is half of the experience. There is something about being in a new city that brings out the adventure in you. I have found myself scouring the city for the best gelato or hidden art galleries and this is how I have met so many new faces.
Talking and interacting with people is how I recharge. I could be having a bad day and then have one good conversation with someone and my mood completely flips. Human interaction is so meaningful to me, it always has been and studying abroad has made me realize that even more. What will stick with me most after my time abroad will be the people I have met and the experiences we shared. It doesn’t matter where you go, it matters who you go with and the relationships you build along the way. I have learned how to be incredibly independent and be okay with not knowing sometimes. Uncertainty can be scary but it’s the only way you learn. It is easy to get stuck in the everyday routine but there is so much waiting outside of that. Thanks to API, a few nerves and a lot of confidence, I was able to do something I will remember for the rest of my life.
I am so grateful to have stepped outside of my bubble, discovered API, and ventured to the Eternal City! There is so much this world has to offer and I hope I can inspire others to think the same. What can you do today to step outside of your comfort zone? Don’t be afraid to let yourself grow, growing is the best part!
GROW, LEARN, EXPLORE!