ISEP student Barbara D. is a part of ISEP Voices Spring 2016. She is a graduate student studying international communication from Università degli Studi di Urbino “Carlo Bo” in Italy, and is currently studying abroad at Creighton University in Nebraska.
After four and a half months of studying abroad, I am back home in Italy. I don’t feel the same as when I left in January. Staying abroad for a few months definitely changes you. Living in a different culture helps you become a better person because you learn to see the world with different eyes. You learn to appreciate what you have, to value the people who are a part of your life and to enjoy every moment.
You also learn to interact with people in a different way. In the United States, I learned to be more cheerful and altruistic. A smile or a simple “thank you” can make someone’s day. Holding the door for someone else is not wasting your time, but a way to communicate with others by making them smile and feel respected. Initially, I felt somewhat uncomfortable when people smiled at me for no reason, when they waited for me holding the door or when they offered me their help without even knowing my name. I felt like they expected something from me. Well, actually they did – they expected me to smile, that’s all. I realized that these small actions made me feel better, and I am grateful to my experience for teaching me this.
Living abroad and knowing a new culture will make you want to travel again and get to know even more people, instead of just being a tourist whenever you leave your town. You learn that we are all part of the same world, just with different points of view. Initially, you may feel uncomfortable or like you do not fit in to your new location. You will start to see how much you can learn from others, and that you only need to free yourself from the barriers of your culture and from your fears.
I think this whole experience was amazing, and there are not enough words to describe it. You just need to immerse yourself in this adventure and feel all the emotions it can offer to you. I think one of the most fantastic moments is when you go back home and you tell your family and friends about your adventure. It’s amazing to tell people about another part of the world through your eyes and emotions.
My advice is to challenge yourself. You may miss your family, your dog or your friends, but it’s all worth it. You will meet amazing people, visit breathtaking places, increase your personal skills and learn to enjoy life.
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