By Jackie Gruber, FFE 2015-16
Studying abroad has changed drastically within the last few years – what used to be considered uncommon is now the latest trend. According to National Association of Student Advisors, the number of students studying abroad per academic year grew 5.2%, from 289,408 students to 304, 467 students. Marist College offers numerous opportunities for all their students to explore living in another country and enhance their global knowledge.
The top 10 destinations where U.S students study are:
- United Kingdom
- Costa Rica
Prior to studying abroad for a year in Florence, I heard a lot of misconceptions from people trying to describe how my experience was going to be. I heard that you party all the time, you never have to study, and you will travel almost every weekend. The top misconception was that you don’t really need to go to class, which is completely false. If you go to Lorenzo de’ Medici there is a strict attendance policy where students are only allowed to miss two of each class per semester, but we do have three day weekends for traveling purposes. In my opinion, studying abroad is more than just the partying in another country and traveling every weekend. Here are some of the top reasons why studying abroad is amazing.
- Adaptability and a new understanding: Before leaving for Europe I could not wrap my head around the idea of me jumping on a plane to another country and having to navigate the streets of Florence by myself. There are many challenges you will face when studying abroad including language barriers, complex transportation methods, and figuring out how to get to your destination. But these challenges are very easy to overcome, and within a few months you will have conquered your fears and adapted to a new environment. Being a New Yorker, the hardest thing to adapt to in Italian culture is the saying “Piano piano”, which means to keep a calm, slow pace. Italians take their time, and nothing here is rushed unlike New York where you see everyone hurrying to get things done or go to work. Most people never have the opportunity to leave the country, so upon your return to the United States you will have gained a new understanding and appreciation for other cultures and a greater global perspective.
- The classes: Yes, the greatest part of studying abroad may be the cheap travel and the opportunities to see new places. But you don’t want to leave your destination without learning some of your country’s history. Here in Florence, Lorenzo de’ Medici offers a wide range of classes all about Italy’s history such as Palaces of Florence, History of Florence, Life in the Renaissance, Organized Crime in the Italian Mafia, and more. The best part of taking one of these classes are the field trips. Occasionally professors will take you on field trips to museums and important landmarks where they will give their lessons, which makes class interactive and fun! You will be shocked when you learn some of the hidden secrets about Italy’s and Florence’s history that maybe unknown to others.
- Having a new appreciation for home: Dishwashers, dryers, and air conditioners: three things Italy does not believe in. The lack of this convenient technology means you have to plan accordingly, especially in the winter, because clothes may take up to three days to dry! I never realized the convenience of having a dishwasher till I spent a year hand-washing dishes. Cleaning up after a big group dinner in our apartment was always a struggle, especially when no one wants to clean. Spring months are the hardest, when the weather is warm and the mosquitos are out, and not having AC is rough when you get bug bites in your sleep. Although these things may seem huge and might talk you out of studying abroad, don’t let them. These things are the little things when you look at the big picture, and I can guarantee not one of these things will negatively impact your experience abroad. They make you appreciate what you have at home! Shoutout to my mom – thank you for always doing the laundry and cleaning the dishes when I’m home!
- Food: Did someone just say freshman 500? That was the first thing people told me when I said I was going to be living in Italy for a year. When you think of Italy the first things you think of are bread, olive oil, wine, pasta and pizza. All which are not the healthiest things to eat all the time, but they are delicious. A great part of living in Europe is all the walking, so you don’t gain as much weight as you think. Definitely have a open mind and try different types of food from all over the world, because some things might surprise you!
Going abroad is a life changing experience, and I strongly encourage everyone to do so!
Photo by Meredith Pollock