Fun fact: in college, I won the class superlative for “Mostly Likely to Talk About her Study Abroad Experience”! As someone who has LOVED her study abroad experiences in college, I am proud to be able to talk about and share the good in studying abroad. In fact, I did study abroad in three different countries while in college: Italy in June 2018, England in July 2018, and Belize in June 2019. If you know me in real life and especially on my college’s campus when I was a student there, then you know that my study abroad experiences have shaped me into the person that I am today. My moments studying abroad remind me of who I was before I left to go abroad and the woman that I have become and will become.
If you follow me on my social media, then you probably know that I LOVED my travel experiences over the few years prior to COVID-19. Indeed, I loved those experiences OH SO MUCH that I shared some of my many memories from my study abroad and even travel abroad and stateside experiences on my Instagram Stories on that day that I was there just years later. Yes, my study abroad and travel and even stateside travel experiences have been formative experiences for me, but they also ignited my personal passion and lifelong investment in travel.
I am one to believe that travel does not have to be a trip where you hop in your car or on a plane and spend 1+ hour in travel mode. You can, indeed, check out the nearby park in your neighborhood or the next town over to get a great experience, too. For example, my college town of Raleigh, North Carolina is a much different city than my current hometown of Washington, DC. Raleigh has a warm, Southern culture, meanwhile, Washington, DC has a big city and a hustle and bustle feel to it. In the case of both of these cities, if you drive 30 minutes out, then you will get a totally new, fresh, and different feel in the cultures, looks of the towns, and things to do. Both of those cities allow for day trips that can bring about personal learning and growth without spending a fortune to go far away. This same idea goes for your own hometown, too! Trust me, I will say this and I will say it again: EXPLORE WHERE YOU LIVE!!!!
Now, you may be wondering, what did I do when I studied abroad and where exactly in Italy, England, and Belize did I reside?! Well, in Italy, I studied abroad in the small Tuscan town of Sansepolcro – it is about an hour outside of Arezzo and 90 minutes outside of Florence. As cliche as it sounds, while in England, I studied abroad in London – the capital city of both England and the United Kingdom. And, in Belize, I studied abroad in San Ignacio the capital of the rainforest region in Belize known as Cayo. It is a smaller sized town in relative to many many cities and towns that I have visited in the past, yet it is a mighty hub in Cayo and Belize as a whole. I also visited Scotland, The Vatican, and France as well as various cities in Italy, England, and Belize. Each of these places are very contrasting amongst one another, which makes it a great fit for learning, growing, and engaging within another culture.
Besides engaging with other cultures, study abroad brought me a whole new perspective onto life. I was pushed beyond my limits in several ways, which I think was a blessing in disguise. The only way that you grow and expand your limits is to push yourself, and study abroad presented me with that opportunity. Similarly, I was presented with the opportunity to utilize my problem-solving skills on the spot, which, in fact, help me in my everyday life in my job as a data scientist and in everyday situations. Case in point, a few weeks before I left for Italy, I was visiting my friend in Philadelphia and ended up putting my credit card into a machine to get a train ticket that ended up being broken. The card got stuck and I ended up in a panic crying outside of the train station for a good 15 minutes. I figured out a solution, but it took some time. However, in the past few days, I can problem solve literally on the spot. And, I can thank study abroad for those experiences and that newfound gift that I have.
I also experienced a newfound sense of pride and independence since studying abroad. I used to be afraid to do things alone. I was uncomfortable with the idea of doing things by myself. A lot of other people are and maybe some of y’all are too. Don’t worry – we ALL have been there! But, study abroad pushed me to be able to be comfortable doing things on my own and navigate a brand-new place on my own. It has been super rewarding to be able to have that comfort and peace of mind knowing that I can do it all on my own. Personally, I probably would not have made the move to Washington, DC if it wasn’t for study abroad!
Overall, study abroad has been able to open my mind up to this extraordinary world that we all live in. My experiences studying abroad help me to this day in my day to day life and I am grateful for that.Follow my blog with Bloglovin
XOXO – Katie <3