Three Thoughts for Abroad

The gang on the steps of the Vittorio Emanuele II Monument!

We have finally arrived in Italy! This experience is something that I have been anticipating for so long and being here definitely feels surreal. I have always dreamed of traveling to Italy, but I never thought I would have the opportunity to live and study here. After living in Italy for almost two weeks, I have learned three very important things: to have zero expectations, to practice open-mindedness, and having gratitude are the key goals to make this the best experience possible. 

Throw Away Expectations: As young college women, our outlook on study abroad experiences is often influenced by Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, or other social media platforms that portray study abroad opportunities in glamorous ways. However this experience is so much more than fun, partying, or getting the perfect Instagram. It’s about immersing ourselves in a new culture and stepping into a world completely different from what we are used to. It can be hard to not constantly compare yourself to others’ experiences when you see these amazing photos, but again, throwing those expectations out the window is key for experiencing it from your own perspective. 

Open-Mindedness: When signing up for JSB, the only thought in my mind was “that will be fun!”, little did I know that this would be a huge growing experience that would help me expand my personal horizons. It also opens up a world of personal and professional opportunities. It can be tempting for me to overthink, over-plan, and over-worry, but for going abroad I couldn’t understand what I was doing until I got here. That has been a huge blessing. This experience is something that you can try to prepare for as much as you like. But being here has surpassed any expectations. 

Gratitude:  Lastly, whether the experience is going the way I thought or not, I feel that it is so important to simply take a step back and be grateful for an opportunity like this. Each day, I have stepped outside and just looked around—literally looked around—and thought about where I am standing. We will never be presented with a chance like this again, and I am extremely grateful to be on such an incredible journey with an incredible group of students. I cannot wait to see what the rest of the summer holds! 

Con amore, 

Clara Williams