By Soleil Roth, Foster Undergraduate who participated in an exchange with Bocconi University in Milan, Italy
Leaving so much behind, I came to Milan with no expectations and not knowing a single soul. And with four months of crazy adventures, long days, fun nights, and endless memories coming to an end, I’m leaving here with so much more than I came with. Some things I’ve accumulated may be more physically noticeable, like the number of souvenirs I’ve bought or the extra dimples on my cheeks (or should I say extra “happiness); while many others are intangible, like the relationships I have formed, the sights I have seen, and the things I have learned.
Over and over again, I have read countless blogs and articles that say when you study abroad, you “discover yourself”. And as clichè as it sounds, it could not be more true. Without being completely aware, there’s a part in each of us where ethnocentrism dominates our way of thinking and our days find security in comfort and regularity. Up until this point, I hadn’t given much thought to how set I was in my ways, knowing that each day would bring something a little different, but not enough to deviate from my regular routine. Here, all schedules are thrown out the window (considering I don’t think Italians ever actually follow a schedule apart from their own) and each day is what you make of it.
Coming back, I hope I’ve changed. For better and/or for worse, I truly hope this experience has changed me. Maybe I’ll come back dressed differently, speak differently, or even act differently, though I can’t know exactly as I myself am not fully sure of all the slow but small changes that have happened since being here. All I know is that going home, I don’t want to be static and unmoved, to leave what I learned abroad and revert back to my old routine. I hope to integrate the two worlds; bringing my last few months of whimsy and culture, the desire to seek new perspectives and be an active participant in the world, and pushing myself out of my usual way of thinking, and blend them with familiar days ahead and places I know all too well yet am eager to return to.