The international experience I gained from my semester abroad in 2016 transcends bullet points on a resume. But I can say that studying abroad means: I am able to adapt to different cultures and people. I am more perceptive and aware of the variety of people and ideas that compose our world. I have confidence in my own abilities and do not need anyone to hold my hand to complete tasks.
I spent the spring semester of my junior year studying abroad through a program run by the Concordia International Studies Consortium. I studied from Rome, Italy, from Jan. 1 to Feb. 19; taught English at a school in Gyor, Hungary, for a week; and studied from Wittenberg, Germany, from Feb. 28 to April 20.
In Rome I took history courses and learned by walking around the city and listening to professors talk about it. In Wittenberg I took German 101 as well as Intercultural Communications and Managing in the Global Economy. The professor of those classes introduced me to a realm of education I had not stepped foot in: business. We toured companies, talked with local small business owners, and introspectively looked at our own experiences as we discussed how people interact and how interactions affect business decisions.
I also learned a great deal outside of the classroom. As anyone who studies abroad can tell you, traveling and living in foreign countries where you don’t speak the language and don’t have many familiar faces around you can be stressful and overwhelming. I handled the culture shock well; in fact, the bigger culture shock came from living in an apartment with other American students who had less studious habits than I am used to. But I adjusted and learned how to cope even better with change, confusion, and unpredictability. I felt comfortable enough after a month in Europe to walk around cities and travel on one day trip by myself. This gave me even more confidence in my abilities to plan effectively, work independently, and follow through on plans.