I can't tell you how many times I’ve heard “well I would study abroad, but I don't want to miss a semester at school! I’ll miss it too much!” Thats classic fear of missing out, and FOMO makes a lot of sense in this case! College is an amazing four years where you build long-lasting friendships, and it makes sense that you wouldn't want to give that up for a semester!
That being said, that mentality makes you miss out on a lot. This semester I travelled to so many different places, met amazing new friends, ate some fantastic food, and did some incredible things. So what if FOMO is turned the other way around? Think of all the things you'll miss out on if you DON'T take the opportunity to study abroad! From my personal experience alone, here are a list of the things I’ve done this semester that I never thought I’d be able to do. These highlights are what made everything worth it:
Rode bikes through Amsterdam
Did a headstand in front of the Colosseum
Swam in the thermal baths in Budapest
Sung karaoke in Florence
Went to the Opera in Rome
Swing-danced at a St Patty’s day festival in Bologna
Picnicked in the park in Valencia
Hiked Mount Etna in Sicily
Went to a comedy club at a bar in Dublin
Took a tour through the catacombs under St. Peter’s Basilica
Took a nap outside a fortress in Assisi
Had a wine tasting at a vineyard on Mount Vesuvius
Went to a Papal Audience with Pope Francis in Rome
Went on a treasure hunt in Pompeii
Took a boat ride down the Amalfi Coast
Tried 20 flavors at a gelato festival in Villa Borghese
This list doesn't even begin to capture the smaller, and often more meaningful things I got to experience these last four months! Coming to Rome with no experience with the Italian language whatsoever, I’ve learned how to order food in Italian and hold basic conversations! I’ve adapted to the Italian sense of style and their way of dining. Customs and aspects of culture that seemed so strange at first are so normal now, and that's the coolest part! Those are the things that you won't get from a week-long vacation, because actually living in a foreign country is a completely different and more immersive experience, and I’m so lucky to have experienced that!
For those who say “I don't want to miss a semester at school”, I get what you're saying. It’s a good thing to love the university you go to in the States and to have amazing friends that you don't want to leave for a few months. But staying with what’s “safe” doesn’t always give you the best experiences. Not wanting to miss football season isn’t a reason not to live in EUROPE FOR FOUR MONTHS!
I’ve been so lucky and blessed to have experienced this last semester. Now that I’m home, so much of my life and my worldview have changed. Of course I missed my family and my friends back home, but I wouldn't have traded this experience for the world. I was very lucky that my major and my family situation allowed me to study abroad, and I can't imagine having passed up this opportunity when I was given the option.
The way I see it, there will always be more football games, more parties at school, more chances to hang out with your school friends. Never again will you get such an amazing opportunity to live in a new country for four months, have housing and everything taken care of for you, take interesting classes, and travel as much as you want on the weekends. You can learn a new language, immerse yourself in a new culture, and make friends that come from all over. Giving up my school colors to take on those of the Italian flag for four months wasn't easy, but well worth it. At this point in my life, my travel journal chronicling my experiences is my most prized possession and the last four months have meant the world to me. Your home school will still be there when you get back! Trust me, this is not an opportunity worth missing.
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<p>I am a Cognitive Science Major (which encompasses Cognitive Psychology, Computer Science, Linguistics, Philosophy, and Neuroscience), with a concentration in Cognitive Psychology. I am also a huge history nerd, and am more than excited to study abroad in a place packed with so much historical significance. I am the Assistant Music Director and Vice President of a philanthropic A Capella group called The AcHOOstics, and I have a very decent background in music! We sing at nursing homes and for fundraising events, and a portion of our proceeds go to the UVa Children's Hospital. Additionally, I volunteer in a program called Holiday Sharing, where we have been working for months in partnership with the Salvation Army to provide tons of food and toys to families in the Charlottesville area. I love to play piano, and I'm a big reader.</p>