Studying abroad has been one of the most terrifying but thrilling experiences of my life. I come from a large family, but I was the first to leave the country for studies and that alone was very overwhelming as I had no one in my family to turn to for any insight as to how it would be to live or even be abroad.
I feel that I made the right decision when I chose to study abroad in Italy. It was a dream destination of mine with beautiful scenery and learning techniques to learn and communicate that other cultures use. Italian culture is a lot more intimate than American culture and you can definitely feel the change as soon as you step off of the plane with how affection is shown, how family is viewed, traveling, and how jobs are viewed as I learned that Italians (in smaller cities) take long lunch breaks during the day to enjoy time with their families.
Before arriving, I felt apprehensive about traveling to a new country while black would have its ups and downs with more downs than ups. Personally, I had a better experience than others. I was always the minority in the room, but that was to be expected, and I did receive looks when I first got there, but that may have been due to my blonde and black box braids that I decided to have for the first month and a half while there. No one went out of their way to say anything rude or exclude me (as I was nervous that would happen after reading on the internet beforehand) as I felt that I was in a very welcoming environment with the director and other students in the program after arriving late due to a COVID diagnosis. I would always suggest doing research on places before going, but don’t get too hung up on what others say. Some people react to certain situations in different ways, so I always suggest reading but take everything into consideration.
People from the program really made this entire experience one that I would never forget. From the very beginning, we all planned out trips around classes and field trips that were scheduled into the program, and planning those trips together brought us closer as we got to come across some of the most historical places in Italy and other countries in Europe, such as France and England. Going in groups always made everything more manageable and less costly, but traveling alone was also very empowering. You don’t have to wait on anyone else or sacrifice what you want to do in order to stick with the group. It’s okay to go to different places alone as sometimes you need and deserve those few moments or even days or peace with no expectations of your own, and those will be some of the best days of your life. Before I left, I felt that I had to do everything with other people, but the more I stayed there, the more I realized that it’s okay to be alone and do things alone because my schedule may not match with everyone else’s or some things may be better than others to experience solo.
Taking advantage of the amazing opportunity to study abroad has taught me to appreciate time as it happens. I was so worried about what I could be in the future that I often overlooked what was right in front of me until almost halfway through the program when I really sat down and took a look at how I’ve been living over the past two months and how I wanted to live until I got back home in the U.S. It taught me to be open to new foods, experiences, and people as what you get in Italy is not what you get at home, and when you don’t have that anymore, you will miss it. Overall, this favorable circumstance has brought more knowledge and friends and experiences than I could ever have imagined and I am eternally grateful for having the chance.
Nardia Ingram (BS Communication) spent Spring 2022 studying abroad in Reggio Emilia, Italy through USAC. Nardia had the following to say about studying abroad, “Enjoy the experience in the moment. Don’t think of the time past or the time forward.”
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