After having been in Cyprus for a month I have experienced so much more than I had ever anticipated I would and have grown in ways that I was not expecting. The advantage of Cyprus being such a small island is the accessibility to all of the island. I was able to travel to Limassol, Nicosia, Aiya Napa, Coral Bay, Paphos, and many other places around the island. Each place I went to taught me something new about the rich history of Cyprus and about myself.
Now having completed my study abroad program in Cyprus, and reflecting on my time there, I am surprised by the feeling of how much I have grown as a person. Personally, I feel much more confident and at ease when meeting new people. All of my conversations in Cyprus are marked with genuine interest and curiosity. In Cyprus people have a kind and engaging way of conversing with one another and talk to each other for the joy of interacting with another person, not for formality. I enjoyed meeting, not just the other students in the program, but the local Cypriots, tourists, professors at the University, our drivers, and tour guides. Each interaction with someone new reminded me of how different individual lives can be, but that at the root of all of us is the same want for happiness. It definitely was not difficult finding happiness in Cyprus. I did not have to look very hard, with the sea constantly crashing in the background and the impression of smiles on faces passing by, it was very easy to be happy and feel content with life.
Academically I surprised myself too. Maybe the only disadvantage to studying somewhere so beautiful is the allure to spend the whole day in the Mediterranean Sea under the warm Cypriot sun. But, during class I found myself wholly interested and engaged with the material so that time passed by quickly and before I knew it the end of the program was upon me and I had taken my last final. I was not expecting to enjoy the classes as much as I did. As a business major these two courses were my first experience with sociology and I am pleased to say I thoroughly enjoyed both classes. Being able to actively experience the material I was learning in the environment around me was an advantage of the study abroad experience. As we learned about the Cyprus Issue in class, the very next day we were visiting Nicosia at the headquarters of the Committee on Missing Persons. Everything I learned abroad directly corelated with the world around me and the material therefore made a lasting impression in my mind.
Before embarking on this journey, I was not quite sure what I would gain from the experience professionally. Now, having completed a whole month abroad in a completely different part of the world, I realize how silly it was to think I would not gain more professional skills. Constantly meeting new people and interacting with the head of committees, the mayor of Paphos, the owners of restaurants, the different professors and department heads at Neapolis University, or even our tour guides all showed me varying glances into the professional world. Each interaction was unique to itself, but all left me with the confidence to learn from those around me and engage in meaningful conversations that open doors and inspire different ways of thinking.
Thus, my biggest takeaway from my study abroad experience is to always remain open to new people, environments, and ways of life. Traveling to Cyprus and living there for an entire month pushed me out of my comfort zone and into a stimulating world where everything and everyone showed me a different way to view life. In continuing my education at the University of Pittsburgh, I am eager to look for those different perspectives in all the new and familiar places and people that surround me each day.