Stories that Shaped Us: Traveling leads to Personal Growth
Noah Eklund is an ISA Florence alumnus and a current ISA/TEAN Global Ambassador at Georgia College and State University whose experience abroad during Summer 2022 gave him the opportunity to travel within Italy and other countries in Europe where he was exposed to new cultures and experiences.
We reached out to learn more about why he chose to go abroad with ISA Italy and how his experience abroad has impacted him long-term. Check out his unique story below and hear his advice for others wanting to follow a similar path!
What inspired you to study abroad and why did you choose Florence?
NE: Ever since I was a kid, I always had the dream to travel abroad. The thought of adventuring the world and seeing amazing sites, and living in a different culture, and being able to do it in school was such a wild crazy idea. I never imagined it would come to fruition, but being able study abroad in Florence Italy was a dream come true. Florence was on my list for some time as I always wanted to see the rich history of the architecture, the art, and the amazing food. It is such a great central location in Italy to travel to other cities and countries as well.
You did a lot of traveling during your time abroad. What are some places you visited?
NE: While abroad, I was able to travel to numerous cities in Italy and to other countries outside of Italy. I visited the main cities like Rome, Venice, Milan, Naples, Pisa, and some not so known areas like Cinque Terre, Lucca, Sorrento, San Gimignano, Siena, and many more. Outside of the country I visited Monaco, France, and Switzerland which was the greatest of them all.
ISA also offers several excursions during the program. What was your favorite excursion offered by ISA?
NE: My favorite excursion hosted by ISA this summer was the overnight trip to Rome. I loved it there as the history was immensely deep, the museums, and the historical sites like the Colosseum, Paul’s Basilica, the Trevi Fountain, and the Vatican made the trip well worth it.
What was it like adapting to Italian culture? Was there anything that surprised or challenged you? How did you overcome those challenges?
NE: Adapting to foreign culture took time, but I started to understand the Italian way quickly. I picked up the important Italian gestures, could read menus with ease, and meshed well with the locals around me. Traveling made me go outside of my comfort zone to meet new people and to learn the different lifestyles of Europe. One thing that did challenge me more than usual was the aspect of pure independence apart from community and family. Learning to be involved in a foreign country takes effort to communicate to new people making strong connections.
Any advice you’d give students interested in a global experience?
NE: If you are truly thinking about going abroad or even have the slightest ambition to see the world, take the opportunity now and seize your time abroad before it is too late. College is the prime time to explore new adventures, new scenes, and new people. You never know the connections or the experiences you may encounter that could change your life. Studying abroad is not just a one-time thing either, after doing this trip I have completed three total trips outside of the U.S exploring the world. This past summer will not end the last trip for me, but I plan to make many more adventures in the future, and you should too!
Curious to hear more from ISA/TEAN alumni? Read more blogs from Italy alumni or explore how other alumni took advantage of their study abroad by traveling within their country and outside of it as well during their program!
Inspired by Noah’s journey and want to discover your own while immersing yourself in a study abroad program? Fill out your details below to let our team know and we’ll help you find your adventure today!