Commentary & Opinion
12:50 pm
Sun March 23, 2014

Mya Coviello Shares Her Experience Abroad

Advocates for studying abroad believe that students who make going overseas a part of their education helps students and future employers develop profound skills. It pushes students to get out of their comfort zone to experience another culture, language, environment, and education system. Essayist Mya Coviello shares her story of studying abroad in Europe.

They say if you want to know someone, you should walk a mile in their shoes. So I did. I began my pursuit of happiness with an open heart and a filled suitcase. I walked beside the colorful graffiti at the John Lennon Wall. One cold Paris night, I walked in astonishment underneath the gleaming Eiffel Tower. My shoes were peppered in sand on the sunny beaches of Barcelona, and I spilt some flour on them in my Italian cooking class, saw Van Gogh’s Starry Night, and the Mona Lisa. Spent a day in England exploring the mysterious meanings behind J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series. I saw artists who could draw imaginative illusions with sidewalk chalk, and street artists who could play an array of beautiful songs, I saw children in underdeveloped cities begging for spare change and a better life. I tried traditional European food, like beef goulash in Prague and fresh spicy salami in Italy. To say the least, I fully embraced myself into several unfamiliar European countries, gaining a new understanding of each exciting culture.

I can still feel the rapid heartbeats in my chest, as I stood on the edge of a mountain in the Swiss Alps ready to bungee 200 feet. A million emotions were running through my body, while my feet were tingling and hands shaking. Was I scared? Yes. Did I jump? Yes. I jumped off the mountain and as I did I released my insecurities and the fear of the unknown. These experiences cultured me. They changed me. They taught me more than a classroom ever could.

Those few moments standing on the top of that moment were familiar. Just a few months back I had felt that edgy yet excitable feeling when I was asking myself a life-changing question – should I study abroad? I had so many thoughts and questions regarding the whole experience -- not knowing where to start, where to go, and I questioned if I could be away from my friends and family for sixteen weeks; if I could completely immerse myself in a foreign country. But I’m so glad I did. Any doubt, fear, or uncertainty quickly went away as I stepped off the plane in Italy.

I faced challenges studying internationally, as most students would. There were times where I wish I could call my mom, or use Google Maps when I couldn’t find the closest transit, but there was a lesson learned in each of these hardships. I learned how to read a map. I appreciated the communication at dinner tables without the use of a cellphone. I created weekly budgets. I taught myself how to make a good dinner without burning the chicken. I became culturally aware of the world around me.

My education advanced from studying internationally, not only personally, but professionally as well. Did you know that less than 10% of graduating students have studied abroad during their academic career? This puts all the students who have an opportunity to study abroad at an advantage amongst their graduating peers. Employers are looking for worldly knowledgeable candidate – someone who knows how to interact with people from other countries and cultures. We live in a global world. Businesses around the nation are constantly communicating with international companies – they want to see universal qualities in future applicants. Studying abroad enhances our chances of success. We have the chance to earn credits abroad, while we see some of the world’s most amazing sights. We have the chance make friends around the world, advance our education, and change our lives. Take these chances. Sail away from the safe harbor. Discover your dreams.