It is almost every college student's dream to study abroad, as it should be. Studying abroad is a life changing experience that is equal parts terrifying, humbling and gratifying. Studying abroad is a lot like your freshman year all over again. If you are going without knowing anyone, you are going to meet a group of people so diverse that you will find that the social cliques you have back home don't even exist. There will be people who are the exact same as you, and there will also be people who are totally different from you. The thing you will all have in common is the fact that you are all in love with what you are learning and being immersed in a completely different culture. You will quickly make friends with many different types of people, and that is one of the beautiful things about studying abroad.
For the first couple of days, it is absolutely terrifying. Being in a totally different country a world away from your friends and family is definitely an overwhelming feeling. Once you are in the country, it is definitely a difficult adjustment. Not knowing the language as well as your first language poses one of the many challenges you will face while abroad. Especially in Venice, Italy's living maze. It is very easy to become lost in this city. If you do not know the language that well or the geography that well, it can definitely be an overwhelming experience at first. Even though the first impressions are kind of scary, it teaches you many useful life skills. For example, I quickly learned how to communicate with people who had no idea what I was saying half the time. Not only have I learned how to be independent in a world where GPS is not always right at the palm of your hand, but I have also learned how to be dependent on my own ability.
Studying abroad is such a great experience that everyone needs to do it if given the opportunity. Studying abroad not only shows you how to figure out how to navigate a city, but it also throws you into the real world with no mercy. For example, my second night here, it was pouring rain at night, I didn't know anyone, and I was so lost and had no idea how to even find my apartment. This experience taught me how to be independent and to also to be a real life Christopher Columbus more quickly than not. You learn to trust your ability and to trust your own intuition. You will find things out about yourself that you would not have known had you not left the safe and familiar borders of your home country.
Studying abroad will not only teach you how to be an adult who is responsible for themselves, but it will also give you a complete different set of friends for life. You will obviously still keep up with all of your best friends from back home, but cellphone service and data are not as easily accessible while in another country. The people who you will meet on this trip will quickly become your new family while abroad. You will be able to become friends with people that you never would have met otherwise. You will learn so much about yourself, other cultures, and other people.
If you get the chance to study abroad, you need to take it. This has been the best experience of my life and I would not trade a second of it for the world. I am forever thankful and gracious to have this opportunity and I wish everyone would be able to experience a semester this way. If you have the opportunity, do not pass it up.