This experience has been the craziest, most independent times of my life. I’ve been so challenged, yet have grown so tremendously in my confidence and in my faith. It’s truly amazing to be taken away from everything that’s comfortable and to be so completely vulnerable, knowing that things could potentially go so horribly wrong. Nonetheless, as cliché as it is, trust, patience, and amazing family and friends helped make the experience completely worth all of the discomfort.
I’ve learned more than I could have ever imagined. I’ve learned more about other cultures and I’ve seen some of the most beautiful places that I would never have been able to experience before. I’ve learned how I travel best, I’ve learned that I have zero attention to detail and that gets a little bit stressful when you go to a new city with only the name of your hostel. I’ve learned how to be completely independent and rely solely on myself. Most importantly, I’ve learned how to interact with cultures that I’m not used to, and that my American prejudices are often not always correct.
There’s absolutely no way I can return back home and no be impacted by this semester. My thoughts have shifted with great empathy to men and women who come to the States not only to learn but to have a job and try to create a life with their families still in their home country. I have seen the world differently and the diversity different countries bring to the world which truly is such a gift.
In this process of leaving home, challenging my identity and everything that I know, and gaining a whole new level of independence may have been one of the greatest trials I’ve ever encountered. And hey, living in Rome and seeing some beautiful countries and cities wasn’t bad either — Thanks for the experience SAI and Roma!
Ellie is a current student at Baylor University studying at John Cabot University (JCU) in Italy during the Fall 2014 term.