The first question I always received after telling people my major and where I am studying abroad was, “How are you going to study English in Italy?”
I considered that a fair point.
But the next question was probably the more basic of the two:
“Are you even going to actually study?”
Once again, fair point.
The stereotype around study abroad is that we do not study, but go around the world, party, and have an awesome experience, and that studying is left to the way side.
Even if the stereotype is true, and I am not saying that it is, there is a highly valuable education in merely seeing and experiencing a culture far from the one we grow up in.
In the American university system, the focal point of college is to go to class, learn, and get a job. But, with a study abroad semester, we are learning so much more about the world, cultures, and most importantly ourselves that a two-hour lecture could ever teach us.
Study abroad is not about the four classes students take once a week, it is about the simple experience of living.
Maybe some people think that this is an easy way out or a glorified gap semester, but I would challenge them to actually have the courage to leave the life they have spent years building from scratch, come to a country, where the main language is not English, meet an entirely new group of people that you will spend all of your time with, manage to attend classes, have fun, travel, and somehow manage not to miss your friends, home, and family too much.
Yes, we are probably a little crazy, but we are also willing to learn more in four months than any school could teach us in a lifetime.
The study abroad experience is unique in that we are constantly studying, but not necessarily from books. We are studying the cultures, art, food, and lives of communities that are the foundations of our identities as humans.
As a self-professed lover of school, I will never say that the days in the classroom are not important and do not lead to any real learning. Of course they do, but here in Viterbo, I am receiving an entire four-month-long lesson that will stay with me forever, and help me become a better student and world citizen in the long run.
Hi! My name is Catherine Wheeler. I study English Writing at Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colorado. This semester I am studying Italian and journalism at Università degli Studi della Tuscia. In my free time, I love to read, cook, and travel.
Ciao! Mi chiamo Catherine Wheeler. Io studio di scrittura in inglese a Fort Lewis College di Durango, Colorado . Questo semestre Sto studiando italiano e giornalismo presso l’Università degli Studi della Tuscia. Nel mio tempo libero, mi piace leggere, cucinare, e viaggi.