Travel: The Greatest Teacher of All

Written by Katie May 7, 2015

“The best education you will ever get is traveling. Nothing teaches you more than exploring the world and accumulating experiences.”

On my first morning back in the United States, I awoke feeling as though the entire semester had been a dream. Upon my return, people began asking me, “How was Italy?” Initially, I was stumped at how to respond. A semester is far too much to sum up and I have often found myself at a loss for words. While I would love to share every waking moment, it still would not do the experience justice. Like many students, one of the biggest challenges I face is finding the right balance of sharing just enough when people ask about my life abroad. 

As I share my experiences and reflect on all the things I have learned, I’ve come to realize the learning that took place extended far beyond the walls of any classroom. Studying abroad helped me gain exposure to international business, but more importantly, CIMBA provided an environment that allowed me to learn more about myself than I ever thought was possible. 

Over the past three and a half months, I have been fortunate enough to travel to 16 countries!

I have explored Italy from Venice to Florence to Rome to the Italian Riviera and, of course, the beloved Veneto region. I wandered the vibrant, costume-filled streets of Venice during Carnival. I conquered the challenge of climbing my first mountain and went paragliding off the summit of Mount Grappa. I biked along the breathtaking beaches of Barcelona and marveled at the modern architecture of Gaudi. I witnessed the luxurious lifestyle of residents in Monaco and endured downpouring rain in France. I hiked a dormant volcano in Scotland and along the colorful cliffs of Cinque Terre. I kayaked in the clear blue Adriatic Sea to the islands of the Rovinj archipelago. I traveled with 23 friends to Eastern Europe—a week full of exploration and laughter. I relaxed on a cruise along the Danube River, bathed in the Hungarian thermal springs, explored the palaces of Austria, ate traditional Viennese schnitzel, danced the night away in Prague, and immersed myself in the history of Dachau. I learned how to make a perfect pizza, toured a local pasticceria, and shared dinner with an Italian family. I enjoyed a gyro in Greece, stood amidst ancient ruins in Athens, and meandered the whitewashed streets of Mykonos. I savored two weeks of perpetual sunshine while gallivanting through Europe with my brother. I ventured up Mont Salève for a view of Europe’s highest peak. I went on a safari-style adventure through the charming village of Sintra. I fell in love with the beautiful countryside of County Clare, Ireland. I cheered on Arsenal during the FA Cup semi-final match, made friends with Big Ben, and even saw a musical in West End. All the while, I formed friendships with people from different corners of the world.

98 days later, I’m exhausted, amazed and, above all, grateful.

Thank you to everyone who supported me and provided encouragement along this journey. Thank you to my mom and dad for helping me get to a place where I was comfortable traveling the world alone. Lastly, thank you to CIMBA for the adventures, memories, and stories to last a lifetime. Until we meet again, Europe!