What I Learned Studying Abroad

McKenna Keller is currently studying abroad in Torino, Italy.  In this article, she reflects on some of the things she learned during her time abroad.

As the fall semester draws to a close, I know I’m not alone in looking back on my time studying abroad with intense nostalgia.

I am so happy I chose to study abroad, especially in Torino, Italy. While I did get the opportunity to go to school and formally learn about Italian culture, the language, and the cinema, I think it is the informal lessons I learned that will stick with me for a lifetime.

One of the biggest things I learned while studying abroad was self-confidence.

Before coming to Italy I would constantly worry about whether or not I could do this: Can I be away from my friends and family that long? Can I speak the language well enough to get around? Can I read the street signs? Can I even fit everything I need in this one suitcase? But now I look back and am actually proud at how well I adjusted.

I found a comfortable flow with the language, gained my bearings in the city, and actually started to feel at home in Italian society. I had never done anything this independent before, and the entire experience really gave me a newfound and fierce confidence in myself and my abilities.

Sitting on the bridge in Italy

I also learned to continue being open minded.

Coming into this experience I had no idea what to expect; I think that was a good thing. I have met so many passionate, kind, and fascinating individuals, both Italian and otherwise, who I never would have gotten to know if I had decided to close myself off to certain things.

I learned about different worldviews, opinions, and experiences that I had never even considered, and I’m so thankful that I could gain a little understanding about these people.

Torino boat ride

Finally, I think I learned to slow down and enjoy the little things a bit more than I would before studying abroad.

Being exposed to Italian culture, from the food and scenery to the kindness of the people, was ultimately a new experience to me. Whether learning to walk down the sidewalk at a leisurely pace instead of a sprint or staying at the table until my drink is gone and I’m good and ready to pay the bill, living in the moment has become a strength of mine.

I’ve learned to feel much more grounded, something I have always struggled with.

At the end of the day, I truly feel like a different person! I think a comprehensive worldview is vastly important, especially for young people, and am so honored to have gotten the opportunity to work on mine.

While thinking about leaving my Italian life behind does make me sad, I am excited to share all these beautiful aspects of Italian living with my friends and family back home. I am, however, already in the process of planning another trip to Italy…

Click here to learn more about Torino, Italy.