By Taylor Bushey
When I was younger, I would find myself always watching teen movies, where the major plots entailed main characters traveling abroad to Europe for the first time. I could picture myself staring in awe with them in front of the Eiffel tower or taking in the sweeping views on the London Eye. It’s something that was always seen as a significant life moment, especially for someone at that age.
Now having grown older and not yet having the opportunity to do just that, I understand (now more than ever) the importance of hopping on a plane to experience everything in Europe and the rest of the world.
By living and venturing only in America I’ve missed out on experiencing the various cultures that truly make up the world. One country is not the rest of the earth, and it can feel like one is living in a bubble if she can’t see what else there is to be offered.
For friends and colleagues, learning this lesson has been such an eye-opener. For instance, “Studying abroad definitely gave me a better understanding of how to communicate with people from other cultures. Everywhere I visited I was the foreigner and I had the disadvantage of not knowing the language or cultural norms,” said Krystyna Saravitz, a recent college graduate who studied abroad much of Europe.
Without seeing and comprehending other cultures, America’s youth misses out on self-development. Since she resides in New York City, Saravitz said, “New York is full of people from all over the world, so studying abroad definitely gave me a more culturally competent view on interacting with all the different people I meet here.” One can’t expand their knowledge if they don’t encounter it first-hand.
With that said, the lessons curated from a textbook or teacher may never compare to someone’s own adventures. With Europe older than America, there is more history to be seen overseas. To see, hear and taste the very difference that comes with a new culture is able to take the lecture outside of the classroom.
When it comes to current affairs, a news outlet can’t become someone’s only source for a tutorial on the world either. Reports on present-day events from other individuals will never create the full story someone may need when they go to live through it themselves, no matter where they may be on the earth.
This isn’t to stay that one can’t live a well-rounded life without leaving where they grew up. However, once someone ventures away for a while, she finally understands her own personal endeavors can never be compared to the entirety of the world around her.
As someone who knows this and has been eager to live through her own lessons overseas, I’ve been preparing myself. With a fresh passport, new suitcase and an open mind, I’m ready to finally start casting myself into Europe’s culture, and hopefully other parts of the world.