What I Am Going to Learn Abroad…I Think

Written by Kevin January 18, 2016

The chaos of packing for 3 months

Ready for Europe!

It is now one week before I am set to leave from Baltimore-Washington International airport. In one week I will be across the world. In one week I will be in an entirely new country that speaks a different language. As I begin to pack my things I start to think about why do people study abroad? It seems like a strange concept when you think about it. We spend our entire high school careers focused on applying and getting into a college, only to leave for an entire semester to go to a different college in a different country that speaks a different language, and has an entirely different culture, customs, people… different everything really. So why do people do it? Why do we leave a school and a country where we are comfortable to travel across the world? Everyone you talk to says the cliché “studying abroad is the best decision I made”, but why? What makes this experience one of a kind? There are so many different activities to get involved with on a college campus why are so many people leaving for another country?

Now since I am writing this before I am leaving, I don’t think I am the best person to answer the question. However since I am a college student, I can give it the ole “college try” and explain why I wanted to study in Paderno De Grappa, Italy. My first reason is for a new experience. Although generic I really am excited to see what being in a new country is like, even if that’s what everyone tells you. However, unlike many, I am excited for the first few weeks where I do not know where I am, where I am going, how to get there, or anyone of the other students I am going with. Although it may be frustrating or confusing at first, it is a real world learning experience that I can use whether in the U.S. or anywhere around the world. Learning to thrive in a place where you cannot speak the language is a skill that you can only learn from traveling and is a communication skill that can be used for a lifetime. Studying abroad to me is all about taking advantage of a time where I can drop everything and live in a foreign country for a semester – a time to learn all I can about not just the country I am staying in but myself as well. And as strange as it may seem, being a student and all, that is the biggest reason I want to study abroad, so I can continue to learn. Before I leave for my trip here is a brief top 5 list of what I would like to learn and or do during my time abroad.

  • Learn how to travel

Being someone who grew up in the suburbs I have not really had much experience with public transportation and efficient travel. Part of this experience is learning how to get around without a car, although every city will be different, and learning how to travel around is a skill I can take to any city I go to.

  • Learn how to communicate with people who speak different languages

Sometimes it is hard to even communicate with someone who speaks the same language. Learning to not just speak but communicate with someone who doesn’t speak my language will take effort, but is a skill I can take and use in many experiences. I am excited to be the tourist, but I have to understand that being the tourist comes with responsibility. It is my job to learn their language not the other way around and it may be rough at first but with practice it will come in time!

  • See history

The United States has a great history, but it is a short history when compared to many European countries. I am excited to finally be able to see so many famous areas across Europe that I have only read about or seen in movies. There are so many parts of Europe that are, for lack of a better term, old. The buildings, museums, restaurants – I can’t wait to see the old stuff. All the history that was history long before the Declaration of Independence was signed. 

  • Try new food

I have noticed in traveling just around the United States that food changes based on where you are, some places like spicy or mild, fried or baked, steak or chicken. I can only imagine how much that changes when I am halfway around the world. I am open to trying almost any new food. If I try something and don’t like it, well at least I can leave the restaurant knowing I didn’t like something, rather than wondering if I would.

  • More Independence

I go to school nine hours from home by car, so I can’t exactly go home for the weekend. However, I can still call my family or friends at almost any time, or if I forget something at home my Mom can always send it in the mail. This is going to be different in Italy and it is something that will be new, especially in a world with the technology we have. I may not be on my own exactly but I will be more on my own then I am used to, but it is something I will learn.