How Studying Abroad Can Change Your Life: A Bitter-sweet Six Weeks

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“Enjoy it. It goes by fast.” I’ve heard this so many times throughout my twenty years; about my teen ages, my time in high school, and before attending college. What does it actually mean, though? Of course, I’m naturally going to enjoy all of these things. When I was told to enjoy my study abroad experience because it would go by fast, I routinely responded, “I will!” as I boarded a plane to Rome, Italy.

Here I am, touching up my 10 page Global Sports research paper, and cramming for my Art History final. Holy crap, I’ve just spent 6 weeks in Rome. Sure, it flew by, but I’m not all that sure that I would want it any other way. While I often hear friends saying that they wish this could have been a full spring or fall semester, I found some perks in the brevity of this program:

1.) I was forced to try and adjust to Italian culture as quickly as I could. New challenges hit me like a ton of bricks when I came to Rome, and when you only have six weeks to figure them out and overcome them, you learn how to do so in an abridged manner. The quicker that I was able to overcome the language barrier and directional issues, the quicker I would be able to build my confidence—a major must-have when studying abroad. Having confidence meant being able to explore the city in depth while not being afraid to mess up, and in six weeks, I’ve found that very rewarding. To sum it up best, in six weeks, there’s no time to say “I’ll do it tomorrow.”

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You can’t waste any time when you have 6 weeks to explore all of this.

2.) Coinciding with a quick adjustment is the failure to fall into a routine. Yes, as strange as this may sound, this is indeed, a perk. When you fall into a routine, you’ve reached a dangerous level of comfort. In my experience, I become less alert, more bored, and less appreciative when falling into a routine; hence why studying abroad has been a great change of pace, and a quick one at that. In six weeks, with all that there was to do and see in Rome, I couldn’t help but to dodge a very outlined schedule. There wasn’t enough time in the day for me to even say that I was bored. All that time was devoted to being aware of my surroundings, and appreciating them. Never did I think I would have the opportunity to spend six weeks in Italy, but here I am, on top of the world.

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Quite literally…

So what exactly does that saying “Enjoy it. It goes by fast” mean? Well, to me, after being able to embark on this life-changing experience abroad, I think it’s more of a warning than a command. So for those who will soon be studying abroad, or even traveling to a destination with a foreign culture, I warn you; Enjoy it. Don’t take the opportunity to transform your life for granted. Immerse yourself into the host’s culture as if you only have one day to do so, not six weeks, or even a semester, because it all goes by too fast.

And finally, before I officially sign off from Rome, I thank my newly formed group of lifelong friends that I made during these past six weeks for putting the cherry on top of this whole experience.

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I hope you’ve enjoyed reading my experiences as much as I’ve enjoyed sharing them with you. Ciao from Roma!

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