Should I stay or should I go (abroad)?

By Emma Lipinski

Student Abroad

Studying abroad may be a scary thought to many people. It’s understandable, because it was a scary thought to me too. It’s easy to stick to your daily routine attending class, going to sporting events, attending clubs, and having fun on the weekends with friends. However, if given the opportunity to study abroad, TAKE IT. As students at Canisius, we are lucky to have a program that offers us the ability to study in such a range of different places as well as advisors that will help you get there. I have only been abroad in Florence, Italy for a month now and I can honestly say it has already been one of the most rewarding, eye- opening experiences of my life.

Studying abroad comes with a lot of things: ne

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Monaco, French Riviera

w friends, new experiences, the ability to travel to new places, and the ability to learn in a completely new atmosphere. Adjusting to the norms and immersing yourself into a new culture can be a big change, but with time and experience, you will realize the long process you went through to get to where you want to study is worth it. For me, the biggest difficulty was the language barrier. I thought I would be okay spending my first few days in Italy only knowing the word “ciao” and learned the hard way that this was the least intelligent decision I have ever made. If deciding to study abroad in a non- English speaking country, learn from my mistakes and brush up on the new language you are shortly going to be surrounded by or else you will very shortly be easily labeled as an American tourist. However, now after living here for a month I can proudly say it does get easier, and I have learned to make small talk with the locals. Another huge difference is the fact that I walk on foot everywhere I go. Although to some people this may seem like a hassle, it is one of my favorite parts because every day I pass something new I have not noticed before whether it be a new museum, shop, restaurant, street art, or building, each unique in it’s own way.

 

There are also a lot of social normality’s to get used to when living in a new country. Customs and traditions vary from country to country throughout Europe, so it is important to be aware of them before traveling into these countries. For instance, in Italy specifically, everyone is very laid back and focus on spending time with their family and friends, which is actually a very refreshing change. “Siesta” refers to the time that certain museums, shops, restaurants and businesses close mid-day so they can either eat or rest with their family. The slow drinking culture is also a very different thing to experience coming from attending college in the States. Italians look at drinking as an art and care a lot about pairing it with their food and slowly drinking while enjoying conversation at the dinner table. My favorite European normality is the amount of dogs I see everywhere in public places, most dressed in sweaters. Dogs are allowed basically anywhere humans are and it’s the strangest/ best thing ever. You will find yourself shopping or enjoying lunch and there will be at least two dogs in there as well. Incredible.

A huge perk about studying abroad Europe is the travel accessibility and affordability, which allows you to go to places you have always wanted to go to. I never thought I would be able to get a round-trip plane ticket for less than $150 until being in Europe. On top of the cheap flights, the trains as well as bus are constantly running at affordable prices and depending on your location, there are companies who offer day trips, weekend trips, and spring or fall break trips at discounted rates for students, which include transportation, activities, as well as hostels. Other Canisius students studying abroad in Europe agree that traveling is the best part about studying abroad. Not only are you living in a new country, but also on the weekends it really is so easy to pack a backpack, hop on a plane and cross a new place off of the list of places you have always wanted to go. To give you an idea of how accessible and affordable travel is, I will be able to leave in May saying I have been to 15+ new cities within 6 new countries, all places on my bucket list.

Of course, attending school is something you will be doing abroad, too. Whether you are taking classes relevant to your major or using up your free electives, there is such a vast array of classes to choose from that (sorry to say) I have already found more interesting than the classes I have taken at Canisius. Although it is challenging studying in a foreign place with professors who may or may not speak great English, they present the material with a new perspective and appreciation, which makes class very enjoyable. I also only have classes three out of five days in the week and take lots of field trips, and who wouldn’t want that?

To sum it up, the opportunities you are given abroad really are endless. I never thought I’d believe the people who told me “studying abroad will be the best four months of your life” but after only one month in, meeting people from all around the world, traveling on the weekends, taking classes I am genuinely interested in, eating yummy food and experiencing things and places I never thought I would have the chance to experience, I already concur. Step outside of your comfort zone, hop on a plane to a new country and study abroad, you will not regret it!

 

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