Kirsten Peterson is an Ambassador who studied abroad in Greece and Italy.
Briefly describe a specific cultural experience you had on your trip that made a lasting impression.
I was out running in Rome with my friend Ali when we took a few wrong turns and got lost in a neighborhood. Away from the city center, most of the people were older and didn't speak English. Testing our Italian language skills and manners in order to get us home was really tough, but so worth it. That experience gave me a lot of confidence in tough situations that followed. There are so many levels of communication that we aren't sensitive enough to notice, and today I really try to pay attention to not only what people are saying, but how they say it.
Why did you choose the program in which you participated?
One of the main reasons I wanted to study abroad was to immerse myself in another culture- and in the Greco-Roman program, I was able to experience two cultures! I wanted to go somewhere where I had to learn the language and see and feel clear differences from my life at home. The Greco-Roman program gave me the opportunity to see Greece and Italy in their urban and rural settings, which is really unique.
Describe your overall study abroad experience.
My experience was nothing short of life-changing. Going to new places and trying new foods, new activities, learning new things and making new friendships helps you continue to grow after you return home.
How has the trip affected you? How are you different for having completed the experience?
Every day I am seeing things differently because of study abroad. One of the main changes in me that is evident is being more relaxed. I accept after travelling that things will always go wrong, but if you hang in there, they can go right again. Stressing doesn't help anything. This is applied easily to my schoolwork and my relationships with friends and family. Nothing truly goes according to plan, and there is happiness in learning and accepting that.
What advice do you have for future Study Abroad Students?
Just do it. You won't regret it. Having an experience like this to look back on personally and professionally is priceless.