What I Actually Learned Studying Abroad

Annika Ehrig
Major: Spanish and Sales and Business Marketing
CIMBA, Fall 2018.

I spent the last 3 months of my life living in Northern Italy and traveling Europe. Here are a few takeaways:

1. Don’t listen to what people tell you about the country you’re going to study in if they’ve never been there themselves!

1_PvdLxWdHd7OouTaCp0GqOQI remember having a person tell me that all I would be eating in Italy is pasta and bread. That was so far from the truth! Italians eat a large variety of foods from the Mediterranean diet. It’s quite wonderful and they have some of the lowest obesity rates in the world. Don’t let anyone scare you out of doing something that’s out of your comfort zone.

2. Every study abroad program is different and, not every program is for everybody.

All programs have different living styles, languages spoken, class schedules may vary, cuisine and eating options are different, and so are program/living prices. I didn’t feel “deprived” as many of my peers felt since they didn’t have Chipotle in Italy. I didn’t miss Starbucks or Steak’n’Shake but I did miss some of the freedoms I had in the US, like driving anywhere I wanted whenever I wanted and being able to cook for myself.

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3. The locals always know best!

1_Sqz526Bju_Q0tu3ObzARKgThere have been multiple times I feel as if I should have sought out the advice of locals before visiting a country. Example: I wish someone would have told me rushing through 3 major cities in the UK in 4 days wasn’t a good option! Locals know the best sights to see (especially off the beaten path), the best places to eat, and other local gems.

4. You’ll never know until you try!

I honestly had a lot of anxiety before study abroad. I was scared to give up the control I had over my life and everything in it. One of the biggest takeaways that I learned was that stretching experiences help you learn and grow. Often times we have to be taken out of our comfort zones to learn new things and see our lives from different perspectives. I’m grateful that I go to such a globally-engaged university that has so many opportunities to study abroad as well as the resources they equip their students to make it to their destination.

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