These Promise scholars expanded the boundaries of their education. Through study abroad they found a depth of experience they weren’t expecting.
Pittsburgh CAPA High School Class of 2012 Penn State University- Communications Major I traveled abroad to Italy during the summer before my high school senior year on a scholarship through the World Affairs Institute of Pittsburgh and The Experiment in International Living. The all inclusive scholarship and the trip are geared toward exploration, so no pesky tour guides— just you and a brand new city. This was my first experience in traveling internationally. I thought it would be amazing to travel to Italy because of the wealth of culture and art, and it was! I traveled across Italy for five weeks with a group of other American kids, studying the language, history, art, and cuisine of the Italian culture. We stayed in an assortment of places from hostels to hotels but the most exciting of the assortment was the home-stay where we lived for two weeks with local Italian families. Everything in Italy is so naturally beautiful and preserved. It’s like taking a step back in time. The thing that surprised me the most was the kids that I met during my stay. You never really realize it but kids are kids no matter what country they live in. We all go through the same things and have more in common than you might think. My host brother and I were both American football fans and we would talk for hours about teams that we both liked. He also helped me discover one of the greatest joys of Italy – gelato. Gelato is often considered Italian ice-cream but ice-cream can never compare to the holiness of gelato. 10 ideapod // SPRING 2013
The biggest challenge for me was allowing myself to be open to new experiences. I had my mind set on what I would do, and would not do, prior to my trip so that made it difficult to push myself to try new things in the beginning. Once I got over that, it was smooth sailing. The most inspirational part of my trip was a combination of the relationships I built with the nine students that I conquered a new country with, and the bond that I shared with the three strangers who opened their home to me and became my new family. I will always remember the summer that changed my life, the summer that trying new things wasn’t an option but a requirement, the summer that I was given a once in a lifetime opportunity, and the summer that people I barely knew became my family. I learned that the world only seems so large because we distance ourselves from each other and are lost in the translations. My advice to those considering a study abroad experience is just do it! There is nothing that can compare to being somewhere for the very first time and living someone else’s culture first hand. It is such a liberating and fulfilling experience to travel abroad. Look into it, talk to your school counselor, and make it happen for you!
The Pittsburgh Promise's Ideapod Magazine