When I entered college, I didn’t give so much as a passing thought to studying abroad. I was far too frightened by the idea of flying and living in a foreign country for an extended period of time. When I discovered that Fitchburg State offered a summer program in Italy, the one place in the world I wanted to visit the most, I came up with a variety of fears and excuses in my head as to why I shouldn’t go. However, the only reason I needed to make my decision was that I really wanted to take advantage of this opportunity.
Spending a month in Italy was far and away the greatest experience of my life. In a short amount of time, we did so much more than I ever thought imaginable. Over the course of a month, we were introduced to nearly every aspect of the Italian culture from visiting different parts of the country, to discovering how they make their food. To live in a city as small as Verona, as opposed to a tourist-heavy area, provided me with an authentic look at what the culture is really like.
Live with passion—lesson learned
While there are many aspects of the Italian culture I admire, what I value the most is their passion for life. Walking down the street, I rarely saw people looking down at their phone, sucked into their technology. I witnessed first-hand how warm and welcoming the Italian people are and how they understand that life is something to be valued. Seeing shops close as early as 7 p.m. every night and watching the city nearly go quiet on Sundays made me realize that there is a significant difference between working hard and working your life away.
Before I studied abroad, I was a very shy and quiet person. It takes a lot to pull me out of my comfort zone, and I knew that an experience such as this would open my eyes to the vast world around me. I am sincere in saying that this experience has changed me for the better. I am now more confident and outgoing than I was before and have made it my mission to push myself in circumstances where I feel scared or uncomfortable, for it is in times like that where we grow the most.
Experience of a lifetime
I am so incredibly thankful for this experience and have an entirely different perspective on life because of it. From hiking a mountain for the first time, to making my way to the top of a church overlooking the city of Florence, I was exposed to so many new elements of life through this trip. I learned that fear is a debilitating emotion in our lives and had I let my initial worries dictate my decision to study abroad, I would not be the same person I am today. Thanks in large part to Fitchburg State, I was able to travel to the country of my dreams, meet some inspiring people, and have the experience of a lifetime.