As more students are now attending college, more students are also taking the opportunity to study abroad. I recently had the chance to travel to Italy for four weeks through a study abroad program in my college. During my time in Italy, I got to travel to 11 different cities all while taking a class and earning credit.

Study abroad allows students to learn both inside and outside the classroom. However, I learned more outside the classroom by living in a completely different culture, immersing myself in the history within each city and being able to see world-famous monuments taught me more than a textbook ever could. I was able to go inside churches that were hundreds of years old, climb to the top of the Florence Cathedral and tour centuries old cities.

Even just being abroad for one month, I gained a lot of independence as I was forced to figure out how to live in another country without the comfort of my parents being with me. The money, language and the way of life is all very different. I had to learn even the simplest things, like going grocery shopping and taking out the trash.

One of my favorite parts of the abroad program was my ability to experience places that an average tourist wouldn’t. On a free weekend, my roommates and I took a train to a place called Cinque Terre. It is made up of five towns on the coast that people can hike through or take a train to each town. We hiked some of the trails, took a boat tour and had a beach day. The views were unbelievable and each town had its own unique character. Not many people knew about Cinque Terre, but it made me realize that sometimes it’s the small towns that create the best experiences. If I weren’t on a study abroad trip, I don’t think I would have ever gone to this place and it has now become one of my favorite spots.

Overall, studying abroad taught me so much. I am now more self-sufficient. I met new people; learned some Italian and gained a new perspective of the world.

The most important thing I learned while abroad is to keep an open mind.

The new set of knowledge I gained is priceless and I would encourage any student who has an opportunity like this to take advantage of it.