I decided to study abroad for two reasons, personal and professional development. The best way for me to improve upon both aspects while I was abroad, was to apply and evolve something known as a “growth mindset.”. I learned about this mindset from a book I read in high school that has since changed my posture toward how I view certain aspects of my life. It means to embrace challenges and learn from others. For personal development, this means pushing myself out of my comfort zone and experiencing a different culture than the U.S. I believe it is important to see firsthand how vibrant another culture can be as it is easy to forget this while consumed in a day-to-day routine. Being exposed to another culture can also lead to a new perspective, thus leading to more awareness of the world. When I think of those who truly enjoy life, I think of individuals who don’t view a challenge as a brick wall but as an opportunity to grow. I want to truly learn from each challenge and person I meet, and this trip abroad helped me gain more insight into what it means to be open-minded. Developing my mindset has benefits in both personal and professional life and studying abroad was a great way for me to grow into this behavior.
Italy had an amazingly rich and different culture from my day-to-day life. From the moment we arrived, the differences were apparent in their architecture. Although I knew of the famous attractions in Italy such as the Colosseum, the Pantheon, and St. Peter’s Basilica, I was not prepared for how big and grandiose they would actually be. The Colosseum towered over us as we exited the metro. The Pantheon, in the middle of the city, was huge and right next to outdoor seating where people could eat and talk. St. Peter’s Basilica was the most awe inspiring. I have never seen such a detailed and big place of worship. The feeling that one gets when standing inside of the basilica is only something that can be experienced in person. I knew of all these attractions but seeing them in person brought questions to my mind and gave me a sense of wonder that is difficult to come by. Another aspect of Italy that I enjoyed was the cities built for pedestrian travel rather than cars. America can be bland looking at times due to the extremely wide roads that are unappealing to pedestrians. In Italy, there were endless streets created solely for pedestrians where people gathered to eat and enjoy each other’s company.
I have attempted to study abroad two times before in Italy and in Thailand, however, both were canceled due to COVID-19. Although this trip was relatively short, I am ecstatic that I was able to study abroad after the lost opportunities before. This trip lived up to my expectations and exceeded them in every way. I do believe that my mindset has grown. I feel as if I have briefly entered the daily lives of those across the Earth, and I am bringing the knowledge I gained from this back home. This trip has only sparked my passion for traveling, I can’t wait to go to many more places and learn from all of them. I can’t wait to travel the globe.
Berkay Dean (BS Electrical Engineering) spent Spring Break 2022 in Rome, Italy as part of a faculty-led trip linked with a UTC course. Berkay had the following to say about study abroad, “Studying abroad is an incredible way to learn about people anywhere in the world. Learning about cultures other than our own can help us become individuals with more developed views on the world.”
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