Mary Hollis- Summer 2015

Studying abroad is a decision that has to be made well in advance of the actual trip. There are many thoughts and decisions that have to be made and as well as those decisions sacrifices have to be made. Giving up part or all of summer vacation, leaving family and friends behind, and unfortunately it is fairly expensive, but with all these sacrifices comes a new memory, an adventure, a friendship, and there is no value that could replace my study abroad experience.

My adventures of this study abroad experience range anywhere from unhappy because I’m up at two in the morning doing homework to an un-describable happy because I just had the best day of my life. Starting in Sansepolcro, a beautiful small city full of life and adventure, a place where we spent most of our time. When I look back and think of Sansepolcro I picture the perfect Italian town, small cobble stone streets, people sitting outside enjoying their meals, beautiful building and terra-cotta roofing. This was our home, we became a family and we have a bond that can never be broken. We learned our way around the city together, figured out how we were possibly going to get all of work done together, planned our travel breaks together, ate together, slept 30 feet away from each other; we were truly united in our home. I always wanted to go to Italy, and coming to college I wanted to study abroad. Deciding to come to Italy on the study abroad program wasn’t a hard decision for me but I know for others it was. Just being in Sansepolcro made spending part of my summer away from my family and friends worth it. The other girls on the trip are now my sisters and my best friends, and I will never have a bond with anyone else quite like I have with these girls. Leaving my friends and family was hard but with the sisters and family I gained it helped to take away the sad thoughts and feelings. We helped each other cope and we definitely stayed busy enough to keep our minds off of things and I wouldn’t change a thing because I would never want to miss out of the bond and connection with the people I gained from this trip.

Giving up my summer was not easy at first, I didn’t want to miss out on all of the events and activities that were happening with my friends and family. I went into this trip excepting to see all of Italy, and we didn’t come too far from that. As a group we adventured to small and large cities all around us. We toured churches, museums, adventured through the streets, walked miles and miles on cobble stone, got rained on, went shopping, and did basically anything else imaginable. Someone who never studies aboard won’t be able to say they did all of this in one day as well as had group discussions and class all at the same time. I may have missed some activities in America but what I experienced in Italy and Switzerland were so much more than just and activity. Having personal travel breaks also added on to the number of experiences I had. In one short month I was able to conquer the five villages of Cinque Terre, Pisa, Florence, Amalfi, Rome, Venice, and Interlaken in Switzerland. It was not easy and time was sacrificed but having the opportunity to see and adventure around the world was well worth it and they are all experiences I will never forget. Looking back, deciding to give up my summer should have been the easiest decision I have ever made, nothing can compare to what I have saw with the people I experienced it with. Giving up my summer was just a small price to pay to experience the world and make memories that will never be forgotten.

One large sacrifice and a part of study abroad is the cost and the money aspect of it. Wanting to study abroad and take the time could be the easy part, but being able to sacrifice that much money is not always easy. I went into the trip having a budget, making wise decisions about my money and everything went smoothly. My group choose to do some more extravagant things, such as move around more and bounce from one city to another, and it was not always easy or the cheapest thing to do, but by doing it I was able to gain experiences and memories that I could not have done otherwise. One trip we traveled for 11 hours straight just to get to Amalfi and the next day we spent half the day there and left and went to Rome but if I could go back and change it I would keep it there. You never know when you might come across your favorite city or place to eat and with my group we made it a point to say you will never find out if you like something unless you try it. Amalfi turns out to be one of my favorite cities from the whole trip, even though I was only there for a short amount of time, but I would have never known that if we hadn’t decided to put a little more time and money into our travel break. Another experience that was expensive but left me on cloud nine was deciding to go paragliding through the Swiss Alps. It was like floating on a cloud surrounded by indescribable beauty. I had so many wonderful experiences throughout my trip, some free some we had to pay but if I had not decided to go on the trip in the first place I would have never experienced any of it.

I am beyond blessed to have had the opportunity to study abroad, and along with it has come many sacrifices. Looking back today I would do it all over again without a doubt and it has made me want to keep experiencing and traveling the world that is full of beauty both near home and far away. I have gained memories and most importantly friendships that will last a lifetime. Sacrifices are a part of life and sometimes we just have to choose which way we want to sacrifice. I choose to study abroad and looking at it now it was more of a reward than a sacrifice will ever be.


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