RU Connection: Studying Abroad
Starting college is an exhilarating time — a year of "firsts." The first Rutgers football game, first "Halloweekend," first lecture hall, first college exam. Being plunged into this new environment may seem like being thrown into an entirely different world. But, Rutgers students have a unique experience by entering the University — the chance to actually study in an entirely different world. A chance to study abroad.
Rutgers' Center for Global Education offers over 180 various programs, from countries ranging from South Africa to Greece, to Tokyo to Israel. For me, it was Italy. More specifically, the Eternal City, Rome.
Upon entering college, I always knew I wanted to study abroad. I knew that I wanted to experience the world, not as a tourist, but as a local — I wanted to live among the people of a city I did not know, but eventually, would grow accustomed to call home. Rutgers offered me that opportunity, and then some.
Despite my strong desire to study in another country, many doubts plagued me — would I be able to afford to study abroad? Would my credits transfer? Would I survive multiple months in another country, time zones and thousands of miles away from my parents, friends and most importantly, my dog?
No matter how strong these doubts were, though, I carried on. The Center for Global Education made the process as easy as it could be, erasing most of the anxieties that come with the decision to study abroad. The application process was easy, the counselors were open and willing to talk and the school's plethora of scholarships made my wallet seem all the more capable of handling months away from home. Rutgers offers programs that make studying abroad fit perfectly into every student's four-year plan — they offer programs for entire semesters, summer and winter break and spring break.
Many people will, undoubtedly, say studying abroad was the best time of their lives. They will tell you that it was magnificent and life changing, that they learned so much about the world, but most importantly, they learned so much about themselves. And, as cliche as it is, they are all right. Studying in Rome taught me more than just the history of famous marble busts and paintings — it taught me so much about myself.
Over my three months in the Eternal City, I learned to be patient, and not to rush through life (certainly a European quality). I learned to embrace the culture of others and to appreciate things I did not understand. I learned to make friends from all over the country, and I learned to appreciate our similarities, but more importantly, our differences.
I learned to navigate a complex metro system with only a map in an entirely different language, and how to make the best pasta at home, while still on a college budget. I learned how to embrace people from all different walks of life, and how to have a 20 minute, in depth conversation with someone, all while not speaking a lick of the same language. I learned that gelato is absolutely a reasonable substitute for breakfast, lunch or dinner and that a good pair of running sneakers and a huge water bottle are an absolute must on the cobblestone streets of Rome in the middle of July.
To say that I have grown as a person while studying abroad would be an understatement. I find that when I studied abroad, I left a part of me in my host country. I am not the same having seen the sun rise from the other side of the world, and you will not be, either. It is not every day one receives the opportunity to live in another country. If that opportunity is presented to you, grab it. You will not regret it.
For as long as I can remember, I have dreamed of seeing more of the world, and I am happy to say that I accomplished that. Not a single part of me regrets my time abroad, and I know a large part of that is due to the fact Rutgers made the transition so seamless. There is an amazing program out there for everyone, and there are only four years to take advantage of it. As the famous adage goes, "This entire planet is home. Staying in one city your whole life would be like never leaving the bedroom."