The Path Less Traveled (By My Home University)
Written by Emily January 27, 2016
Ciao from Italy!
It’s been a little over a week in beautiful Paderno Del Grappa and I feel as though I’m slowly but surely getting the hang of things! For my first blog post here, I thought I would talk about something that has had a major impact on my study abroad experience so far—choosing to study abroad on my own. As seems to be true with many large universities, studying abroad as a junior is a somewhat common thing to do at my home University (S/O Wisconsin!), so we’re fortunate enough to have many fantastic programs to choose from. The only potential downside to study abroad’s popularity is that many university students end up in the same programs.
Choosing a program that would guarantee I had familiar faces alongside me was something I thought about a lot during my program decision. Part of me was nervous at just the thought of doing a semester in a completely unknown country, so having some friends to lean on the first few weeks and throughout the program sounded like a comfortable and reassuring idea. I had never been in a situation where I was in a completely new environment with complete strangers, so the thought of it definitely made me nervous.
At the same time, I realized how impactful the experience of going on my own would be. I wanted the full study abroad experience and everything that went along with it – unknown places, an unknown program, and unknown people. I knew doing a program on my own would provide experiences I could not get elsewhere, and would force me out of my comfort zone.
I ultimately decided to attend Cimba (wahoo!), which is a new program offered through my school. I was told that one other UW student would be attending, but I didn’t know the student.
Turns out taking this risk was the right decision!
For anyone on the fence about going abroad alone verse with a safety net of people: I encourage you to take the risk of going alone. While it’s definitely been intimidating at times, I am getting an experience I would never have if I stuck with friends I knew prior to coming. Coming friend-less has allowed me to meet so many new people from a million different backgrounds. It’s amazing how interesting each person’s life is. Every opportunity provides a time to meet new people: meal times, classes, going out, etc. Although I would like to think I would have expanded my network in the same way if I were with friends, I know that probably wouldn’t be the case. It’s only the first week, and I’m already extremely happy with my decision to go abroad alone.
It’s hard to believe it’s already been more than a week since arriving. It’s already beginning to feel like a second home with some great people, and I can’t wait to see what the future holds!