Today’s post comes to us from San Diego State University student Bella Martin! She studied abroad with us in Florence, Italy last year and was able to travel extensively during that time. Now, Bella is blogging with API as part of our Global Leadership Academy. This program is open to all API alumni who want to network with other students. In some cases, getting involved in the GLA has opened doors for students in the field of travel or international education! Bella is one of those cases, so let’s hear from her now!
“One year ago, if you had asked me the question ‘why are you studying abroad?’, you would have heard a simple answer: it seems fun! At least this is what I would have told my friends, maybe not scholarship selection committees. While my assumption proved true –my time abroad was undeniably fun—I did not yet understand the complexity of living as an expatriate.
One month from now I will be moving back to Florence, Italy—where I studied with API—for my first job post-graduation. Now, when people ask me about my decision, I can provide a more comprehensive response. For those who are wondering, here is my answer. This is why I travel…
1. I travel because of an insatiable curiosity.
I have always had an annoying tendency to ask a million questions, to investigate every angle, and to try and understand the many sides of a story. Traveling fuels my inner child; it allows me not only to hear about alternative lifestyles, but to live within them.
2. I travel because it makes me uncomfortable… in a good way!
The perfectionist in me loves to get everything right the first time. I have learned that while perfection may be idealistic, it is never realistic. Traveling forces me to befriend my mistakes and to triumph over the smallest of victories, such as ordering a coffee in Italian or pronouncing ‘Grazie’ correctly. Yes, I pronounced that word wrong for most of my life and you probably are too!
3. I travel because through understanding others I can better understand myself.
While living in Italy, I not only learned about what it means to be a foreigner, but I also uncovered new strengths, weaknesses, and desires. One of my major take-aways is that I am impressively bad at directions, but hey, getting lost can be fun too!
4. I travel because of the people you meet.
Making friends across continents, across time-zones, and across cultures is a uniquely eye-opening experience. I have found that when it comes to the most important issues, we are all strikingly more similar than different. Languages can help us communicate but words are not the only key to understanding. Traveling has shown me that I can grow to love people who I cannot even speak a word to.
5. I travel because it is worth it!
I would argue that there is no other experience that is equally as terrifying, exciting, hilarious, heartwarming, and rewarding as fully embracing another culture. Whenever I experience this immense range of emotions, I remind myself that it is normal. Then I take a deep breath, look around, and think to myself: what a wonderful world! Cue ‘What A Wonderful World’ by Louis Armstrong.
This is why I travel. Now, if I may ask,
Why do you?”
Want to join API’s Global Leadership Academy? Apply here!