There are some universities in the United States where studying abroad is a requirement for their students. I truly believe that this is a policy that every university should implement. My four months abroad have opened my eyes to different cultures and broadened my understanding of the world we live in. Before this study abroad experience, I had never been out of the country, and therefore my only exposure to these different cultures was secondhand. But watching videos or reading articles about foreign cultures is nothing compared to actually living in and experiencing these cultures firsthand.
In addition to learning many things about foreign cultures and ways of life, my study abroad experience has taught me many things about myself. Before I embarked on this study abroad program, I was never one to step out of my comfort zone. But, had I not stepped out of my comfort zone and into an entirely new culture, I would have missed out on one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. As my time here progressed, I realized more and more how much I really loved stepping out of my comfort zone and trying new things. Learning this about myself has allowed me to have some of the most amazing experiences here; experiences I would never have had otherwise.
I believe I have grown academically here as well. My classes here placed a large emphasis on writing, as many of our grades were based on essays rather than exams. At Pitt, I have not had to do much writing in my courses, as the majority of the grades are based solely on exams. With these essays in class and the blog posts I’ve written while abroad, this has surely been the most writing I’ve done during a semester in my collegiate career. I, as well as my professors, have noticed a vast improvement in my writing ability since the beginning of my time here.
I also believe that the things I’ve learned while abroad will surely help me in the future professionally. As the Spanish speaking population continues to increase in the United States, more and more businesses are looking for people who can speak the language. In this aspect, my time learning the language here will surely prove beneficial in my future. Though I am not perfect in the language yet, the improvement I’ve made since being here has given me the motivation I needed to continue learning the language. Additionally, Spanish is very similar to other European languages as well. So, when I have perfected Spanish, my plan is to continue to learn more languages, and they should be much easier to learn now that I have the background in Spanish.
As my time abroad comes to an end and I return to Pittsburgh to finish my collegiate career, I plan to translate the things I’ve learned here into a successful academic and professional career back home. I now feel much more comfortable stepping out of my comfort zone and I plan to continue doing so back home and hopefully expose myself to new and exciting opportunities by doing so. Though I am sad to be leaving Europe, I am excited to use what I’ve learned about the world and about myself in my life back in the States.