Summer of a Lifetime

By Jennifer Lo, Foster Undergraduate who participated in the Foster Rome program and the Business Britain Exploration Seminar in Summer 2017. Jennifer was a GBC Study Abroad Scholarship recipient. 

I feel blessed to have had the summer of a lifetime. Ten countries in three months? It was a lot, and I did it. I can’t say I’m already looking for my next adventure abroad because it was tiring, it really was. I loved every single second, but it’s time for me to get back into the swing of things.

They say that study abroad changes you: changes the way you think, the way you perceive people and things, and broadens your mind. I certainly don’t disagree with any of it. From interacting with the locals to getting my purse slashed, I have to say that I do think differently now, I do have a new perspective on certain ideas and mankind overall, and I like to think I am more open-minded than I was before. More importantly, that personal growth stuff? That definitely happened too. So much of it, I’m still trying to wrap my head around it all.

One of the things I had to do – quite a lot, actually – was to get from one city to the next. I was traveling in Greece before starting the Foster Rome program and I was with my good friend Julia. We lugged our suitcases to the bus stop, or at least where we thought the bus stop was. One thing to note here: Greece’s public transportation system is completely unreliable. We wandered aimlessly looking for our bus stop. My eyes were glued to Google Maps on my phone, but no such luck. Eventually, a Grecian man came up to us and asked if we needed help. I had heard horror stories of tourists getting lulled into scams by thieves who were just taking advantage of their naivety. I was immediately skeptical of this man who offered to help. Before I could speak, Julia told him where we were trying to go and started following him. I didn’t know what to do – obviously, Julia trusted this guy, and I trust Julia, so I hesitantly trudged ahead.

I was on edge until the bus arrived and we got on safely. I felt so bad for immediately judging this man; I had voiced my opinion to Julia under my breath when the man was walking ahead of us, and she had told me, “trust the locals”. Evidently, Julia was right, because the man was just being generous with his time and no harm was done at all. In fact, we were able to get to our flight to Rome early.

This experience taught me two things: yes, to trust the locals, but also to remember that there are more good people in the world than bad. When you’re abroad, you learn from people, near and far.