Bari Pearlman is a student at the University of Nebraska and an ISA Featured Blogger. She studied abroad with ISA in Rome, Italy.
Before I left for my trip abroad, all anybody told me was how much I was going to change, how I’d come back and my life will seem totally different, and how life-changing this opportunity was. To be frank, these comments scared me. Everyone was setting up this trip to be this life-changing adventure, but what if it wasn’t? What if I left for Rome and hated it? What if I didn’t have as much fun as everyone said I would? It was with these thoughts on my mind that I hopped onto a plane to go to Rome for six weeks.
I have now been back for four days and have realized that everyone who told me that it was a life changing trip was right.
Studying abroad opens up opportunities. You make new friends who are not only across the country, but also across the world. These new friendships are important. Don’t just think because your program ends, so do your friendships; I’ve already made plans with my friends for a reunion trip. Go visit them at schools. Stay in contact. Snapchat them. FaceTime them. It’s these people that helped me make my new country home. It’s these people that I experienced the world with and that should not be forgotten.
It brings about new education opportunities. I left Chicago as an ADPR major who had plans in Crisis Communications, but not really sure what field or area I wanted to go into. I left Rome deciding to add Global Affairs to my education in hopes of pursuing Crisis Communications on a global level. When abroad, you have the opportunity to take new classes, experience new fields, and meet new people in the industry. Take advantage of it. Take a random class. Hand out a business card. You never know where it might take you.
You become more you when abroad. Before I left for Rome, my mom told me she was worried that I wouldn’t be the same “Bari” as I left. While I might have changed and grown up a little while abroad, I think I became more “Bari” than ever. When you’re abroad, you’re on your own. It’s you trying to make it in a new country. It’s those experiences that make you more comfortable with who you are. I found new flaws when abroad: my cooking needs work, I truly need air conditioning, and I can be a little OCD. But I also found new strengths: I adjust to new cultures, have an easy time meeting new people, can navigate public transportation, and pick up hand gestures better than languages.
A trip abroad does change you, but not in a crazy new personality way. It opens your eyes and makes you realize how big the world is and how small you are. When abroad, you experience new foods, new sights, new languages, new people, and new cultures. You find new ways to cook food that you’ve been cooking for years. You start to realize that you’ve been viewing the world through a very small lens.
It’s easy to go abroad and preach about everything that was different and how it’s better. But the only way to really experience this big amazing world, is to go out and live it. Go and travel. Go widen your lens and take it all in.
The world awaits…discover it.