Study abroad will change your life! We asked alumni to reflect on their time abroad and share a few tips to help future students prepare for the journey ahead. Check out what Sarah H., from Gustavus Adolphus College, had to say about her time study abroad in Rome!
Why did you chose to study abroad?
I always knew I wanted to study abroad. Ever since I was little I've loved traveling, sightseeing, meeting new people, and any kind of adventure. College is the perfect time to study abroad and have a program to help you line things up, so I couldn’t pass up the opportunity!
What is one thing you wish you knew (or one piece of advice you would give yourself) before studying abroad?
I wish I didn’t underestimate the beauty of places off the beaten path. My favorite trips, sights, foods, and friends all came from cities I’d never heard of, countries I didn’t know much about, and cultures I wish I would’ve been exposed to sooner. So my one piece of advice to my younger self is to dive head first into the experience and go to as many unpopular locations as possible!
In what ways did you see yourself grow and change while abroad?
I was a huge planner before going abroad. I liked things done a certain way and wouldn’t make decisions without a calculated pros and cons list. But during my time abroad I was exposed to so many relaxed cultures that showed me the beauty of “unknowns”. I learned to be more care-free and let go of my anxieties about the future. Studying abroad taught me to live in the present and never take any moment for granted!
What was the biggest culture shock you faced? How did you adapt?
Italy was tough to adapt to because of the language barrier and casual way of life. I was so used to tight schedules, so it was weird being surrounded by so many relaxed people.
How would you summarize your study abroad experience in one word?
Transformative. (Ugh so cheesy.)