If anything, study abroad should serve to teach students of their own insignificance.
Transplanted into a context so radically different from their own, placed amongst strangers, exposed to another completely valid way of living, they are confronted with a diversity of life previously unknown to them. Every day in Rome I see hundreds of people with whom I share little common experience. In an abstract sense I know myself to be surrounded by millions whose lives are separate from, but just as real as, my own. Instead, I think travel and study abroad in today’s media-driven society reaffirm individuals’ sense of themselves. People don't go abroad open to change. That’s a shame because there’s a bittersweet peace to be found in being no bigger than anyone else.
Sonder is the realization that every person has as rich, complex, emotionally engaged, and full a life as your own. While we see others as simply the background or supporting actors in our own self-absorbed life stories, we play those exact same roles in the biographical film-reel of passersby. This is the only time I’m going to use that buzzword of study abroad: it’s humbling. Or at least it should be.
Here's an image essay of my spring break travels to Athens, Crete, and Istanbul. I am equally grateful for the wonder of seeing these remarkable places as I am for the experience of seeing them with an incredible group of women, without whose friendship this semester would have been lonely and less. Mamas had fun!
"Stuff your eyes with wonder. Live as if you'd drop dead in ten seconds. See the world. It's more fantastic than any dream made of paid for in factories." - Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451
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<p><span style="color: rgb(29, 29, 29); font-family: Arial, Verdana, sans-serif; font-size: 12px; line-height: normal; background-color: rgb(237, 237, 237);">I’m your standard artistic mutt, head on the ground, feet in the clouds, brought to you by a serious case of wanderlust. Small-town Minnesota girl, ex-expat of Singapore, international traveler, art history major, varsity fencer, opera singer, aesthetics junkie, curious soul, gelato votary, far from home at Haverford College in Pennsylvania, making distance and immersion my teachers during a year abroad in Rome, Italy. You can follow along as I happily consume art and carbs in la bella città, but be warned I might not stay in one place for long!</span></p>