And just like that my three-week study abroad adventure in Europe has come to an end. This morning I was having breakfast with Julia and a few other friends on my program and we couldn’t believe our trip is already over! I have learned so much about the three countries I visited and Central Europe as a whole.
I have grown in a variety of different ways during my program. Professionally, I learned how to communicate better with people from different geographies by using appropriate body language, speaking slowly, and making more of a conscious effort to listen. Academically, I have deepened my understanding of current and historical Europe and how it compares and contrasts to my home. I am more confident in my ability to discuss global news and how different policies can impact the economics and political situations of these countries. Furthermore, I have developed a significantly more thorough understanding of the history of World War II and how communism impacted Europe, which is something I don’t feel I have had enough of an educational background in. Most of that knowledge was gained through important trips to different museums, but especially, Auschwitz concentration camp. Personally, I have challenged myself to have more patience in times of frustration, like when no one speaks English, and have strengthened my ability to be a quick thinker and adapt in difficult situations.
Furthermore, a key takeaway I can identify from my program that I will bring back to Pitt Business is the importance of actively growing one’s global competence. It sounds easy, but I now realize I don’t know as much about the rest of the world as I should. It is important to talk about international news and history in and out of the classroom because everything in the world in connected. Understanding how certain policies or events can impact other geographies in addition to ourselves is an impressive and unique skill that can set you up for success and make you a great conversationalist.
To summarize, my international experience in Prague, Budapest, and Krakow has surpassed my expectations. I know it is typical to experience occasional homesickness or nervousness when traveling, but fortunately, my experience was filled with excitement, laughter, and meaningful moments. Of course, most of that has to do with the engaging group of students on my program, our amazing professor, and the fantastic people Pitt partnered with to organize our excursions; however; a portion of it also had to do with me going into my experience with and open-mind and positive attitude. That is the biggest piece of advice I can give to any student going abroad.
And just to wrap up – in case anyone read my last blog post and was wondering – I did do a pierogi making class with my friends and had so much fun! I learned I am not very good at sealing the pierogis as the old polish woman who taught us keep fixing my dough! Overall though, it is a must do if you ever visit Poland.