Mariama Ndiaye studied abroad with ISA in Florence, Italy in Fall 2019 and is a former ISA Global Ambassador at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts.
When thinking of the word “travel,” I tend to think about vacations, relaxation, inspiration, and lastly, freedom. Traveling is known to be full of fun and adventure, but it can also have significant benefits to your physical and mental health.
Traveling can be an experience to reinvent yourself, be more creative and can help with depression and stress. Here are some ways that travel can make you more mindful and self-aware.
Boosts Your Creativity
The simple act of walking to class and getting lost in the streets with new friends liberated me in a whole new way. It boosted my creativity and self-assurance to go after the kind of life I believe I am destined to have.
Florence is known for its art history, so all around me were artifacts to learn about: murals, signs, and even on the charming cobblestone streets. Everywhere felt like a piece of art, which influenced me to feel more inspired and enriched in my everyday life once it was time to return to America.
When you physically engage yourself with the culture of the country or location you are in, you will find it easier to adapt to your local environment. This can result in a desire to create something that reflects your surroundings.
Less Anxiety, More Confidence
“Increased engagement in activities that have been shown to improve mood, like travel, can help. It can be as simple as going for a walk, but something more involved, like travel, we can say by analogy almost certainly is worthwhile,” says Dr. John Denninger, psychiatrist and expert on mind-body science from U.S. News and Health.
Every day during my three months in Italy, I realized how much more confident I was to make big decisions on my own. If not for studying abroad, I would not have had the courage to embark on trips to different countries by myself. This trip was the change I needed to start living a more mindful life. Without this experience and taking in the beautiful views of Italy and London, I would not have the same drive and passion that I have today. I now move through life with a new outlook on my mental and physical health.
The trips that were the most momentous to me were Cinque Terre and Rome. While being in these two destinations, I had made new friends and was able to move freely during weekend excursions. This movement helped me not feel stuck in my head, and pushed me to take action with my life and who I want to be.
My overall mood lifted as I embarked on multiple trips and activities, as I was constantly moving. When traveling to new destinations, I have found it easier to be in the present moment and forget about the future or past. It’s a push to and start living in the now.
Become More At Peace
A Cornell University study states that, “The anticipation of taking a vacation is far greater than the anticipation of acquiring a physical possession. Thus, the benefits of traveling abroad begin well before the trip does.”
The internal dilemmas of studying abroad tend to revolve around the big leap of getting out of your comfort zone. In my experience studying abroad in Florence, the first two weeks were uncomfortable. I was sick for the first few days with a small cold and arrived later than most students. Since I arrived late, I was worried that I would not make friends and feelings of loneliness crept in. On top of that, I was in a completely new culture surrounded by a different language.
However, these small dilemmas did not last long, and I began to feel like Italy was my newfound home. I started to reach out to the other students living near me, and we all became great friends during our time studying abroad. This experience taught me that stepping out of your comfort zone benefits your growth and can change you into the person you’ve always wanted to be.
In order to be at peace with yourself, it’s crucial to push the boundaries you’ve set for yourself and take that leap. Studying abroad and traveling have taught me to be in the moment, but also be confident. Then, you will feel at peace with your environment and with yourself.
Inspired by Mariama’s journey and want to discover your own while immersing yourself in an abroad experience? Fill out your details below to let our team know and we’ll help you find your adventure today!