Why students should consider studying away despite pandemic

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by Kat Steel, Reporter

Photo courtesy Pexels.com

On October 12, Aquinas College President Kevin Quinn announced that the spring and summer study away programs are cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Although he said that Aquinas will offer programs starting in the fall of 2021, there is still uncertainty about whether this will occur. As a senior, I felt very fortunate that I was able to participate in the Italy Study Away Program right before the COVID outbreak and I gained a lot from this experience. For those who are still considering studying away in the future, there are many reasons why one should. 

  1. You will create lifelong friendships. The best thing about studying abroad is meeting people from other schools that are also studying abroad. There are many opportunities to do this, including searching for tourist attractions or having a checklist of all the places to go to. During my experience abroad, I became really good friends with the students from Ave Maria University. I try to keep up with them and relive the memories we had during our study away experience. 

2. It will change your life. People are never the same once they step off the plane in the country of their dreams. When you study abroad, you step outside your comfort zone and try new things. From the beginning, I had to step out of my comfort zone because my luggage was left in Ireland didn’t make it to Rome when we first arrived. I was a little scared because it was not uncommon for Fiumocino (the main airport in Rome) to lose luggage. Luckily I had extra clothes and it came 5 days later. Besides that, the culture is different and fun. With so many places to see in Rome, there is very little time to experience everything. Make the time while you can. 

3. The chance to find home in a new place. Wherever you go, the people are are very friendly and family-oriented. While I was in Italy, the people at my favorite coffee shop were so nice and made me feel like I was from Italy. It is always a pleasure having one on one time and talking to them about life. That is the one thing that I missed about Italy the most was hearing people’s stories and finding out how they ended up in Rome.

There are endless reasons why one would study abroad. Although it is not the most-talked about topic right now, it is definitely something to consider in the future for sophomores and freshmen. It is a once in a lifetime experience that one may never experience elsewhere. I am thankful to be able to have the opportunity I had last fall before the global pandemic outbreak occurred, and I hope students will consider going once it becomes safe to do so.

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