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The Earth Is What We All Have In Common

The Earth Is What We All Have In Common

“Studying abroad will transform you!”

A few weeks into my study abroad experience, I was unsure I would undergo this transformation everyone was telling me about. I was uncomfortable, a little homesick, and afraid I was doing something wrong. As I begin my last week in Rome, I reflect on the last 3 and a half months and realize how much I have changed. I was born and raised in Chicago and have spent my whole life in the same city. Growing up, my dad loved to road trip and brought me along since the young age of…2 weeks! It seems as though I was meant to love travel since a young age. As a sophomore at Loyola, I realized I had never truuuly been taken out of my comfort zone. Chicago was familiar, Mexico was familiar (the only other country I had been to), and well, anywhere in the states is still America and the language is still English. I signed up to study abroad at the John Felice Rome Center and was quickly accepted into the program. At the time, a year seemed so far away. I sit here now, about to finish my Junior year and about to return to Chicago in less than a week, truly inspired by my study abroad experience with a whole new perspective on the world.

First, I want to say American privilege is real. I have never been more aware of that until I crossed the Pacific Ocean. Let me tell you, when you go to a foreign country and your Airbnb host who is a native of the country apologizes for their inability to speak English…American privilege has never stuck out more to me. I went abroad to force myself out of my comfort zone. I needed to be forced out of my comfort zone to appreciate the things I wasn’t aware I had or loved. I have grown more confident in myself and what I want out of this life. I am more sure now than ever about my education goals, career goals, and personal goals. Once I get started, nothing will get in my way. I am excited for the future.

In addition, I needed to go explore different cultures and ways of life to appreciate my own culture more. Diversity is wonderful and I should be proud of my Mexican culture. Immersing myself in many different cultures made me more open to exploring my own and I have learned to appreciate and love my differences. Learning from all kinds of different people and really trying to learn a new language has given me a new perspective. Diversity is beautiful. There are things you simply cannot learn inside of a classroom. When you go abroad, the world is your classroom. Each flight, train, interaction, and footstep is a learning and new experience. Adventure awaits at every corner and I don’t know when I will ever get the opportunity to travel every weekend ever again, but I sure will long for the next trip to come.

So, I’ll leave you with this. There is no “right” way to study abroad. Just be flexible, be open-minded, and breathe in every single moment.

“We travel because we need to, because distance and difference are the secret tonic to creativity. When we get home, home is still the same, but something in our minds has changed, and that changes everything.”

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