A Pinnacle Time to Study Abroad

Sarah Trumbull
Major: Graphic Design
Program: The Book of Arts in Italy

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A photo of clothes hanging on an outdoor clothing line in Italy.

“When you live in a country that’s only been formally established for a little over two hundred years, it comes to you as a starking contrast when you visit somewhere like Europe. Europe is western culture similar to our own, but different just enough that it strains the tendencies of a normal life as an American growing up in the Midwest. Things you read or talk about in history classes are so much more greatly realized when you see them in the flesh and on a human to object level, not just in photographs and words.

Studying abroad was an opportunity that occurred at a pinnacle time in my life, and I’m grateful the experience played out in the way it did. Now graduating college, it can feel like a big world while having to make my own path. Navigating the trials and tribulations of a country where you don’t speak the native language did reaffirm my confidence in my own ability to navigate and handle myself. Of course, by the end I was exhausted, but I was so enriched by my environment and the work I was doing that my physical limitations were an after-thought. It was amazing to me how quickly I slipped into growing roots in each of the places we stayed— revisiting cafes we liked or walking the same paths to class, each day making more art and getting comfortable in our homes for the week.

In each city, everything built up around us had been their much longer than I had. Every road felt like it was built for the movement of people, not just cars or trains. In each place we tried our hardest to speak Italian and lay low with other members of the public, or at the very least give off an impression of American decency. Our professor, Jeff, was of course a large help in the learning curve. Italy gave me an idea of the independence of my art form while still working diligently to create a solid product in not very much time. As a graphic designer, I create a lot of work through digital means. Putting myself in Italy not only took me away from a digital perspective while encouraging the use of my hands, but sent me even further back in an environment that was historically more influenced than the United States we know today.”

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