This blog post is courtesy of Anne Wimmer, a W.P. Carey Business student studying Human Resources, who attended the ASU: Greece and Italy Honors program. She was also a recipient of a Study Abroad Office Travel Grant!
Studying abroad. These two simple words mean more just than pursuing education outside of one’s own country. Studying abroad isn’t just only about being a student; it’s about experiencing what it means to live on this spherical object that we call Earth. It’s about getting out of our comfort zone and doing things that we normally don’t get an opportunity to do, whether that be eating authentic Italian food or learning about a country’s stance on healthcare.
Everyone has their own goals of what they want to get out of being abroad. For me, though, my goal was to help develop and shape my own global consciousness. Something I feel that has left a permanent mark on my body and soul, and it is something that I will always want to enrich through the course of my life. This summer I was given the opportunity to travel to Greece and Italy through Barrett’s study abroad program, though this wasn’t the first time I’ve been overseas. A few years ago, I was living in Germany for an extended period, and it was my experience there that motivated me to go back overseas to learn more about other Western cultures besides the American narrative. Ever since living in more of a socialistic country, it has always been an interest of mine to compare our capitalist culture to countries that aren’t so gung ho on the idea. This brings us back to the word “global consciousness”.
To me, this means to be aware of how the rest of the world operates outside of the country you were born and raised in. But why do I find this to be something vital? Because there are multiple ways to solve an equation and yet still get the right answer. In other words, it’s important to me to acknowledge that just because I may have been taught to think or do something a certain way, that does not mean that my thoughts or actions are more correct than someone else’s. A lot of people are opinionated and vocalize what they like or dislike about someone else’s choices or thoughts, but they tend to forget that perhaps they could use differing opinions to better their own situations. I personally see the world and other countries as if it were a university campus. Each country is its own college, and therefore can offer different schools of thought.
Obviously, one can argue that they can achieve a sort of consciousness by being mindful of their peers’ opinions in their own countries, however, this consciousness is limited. I don’t think we can fully appreciate different values or viewpoints if they stem from within our own country because we are already somewhat familiar with them. Let’s say that there are two sides to a controversial topic in America, but in Europe, there is a third side. Ah! I just considered a new idea, and therefore have learned something that may never have crossed my mind.
In conclusion, studying abroad has impacted my personal life by not just teaching me school curriculum, but has given me the ability to learn outside the classroom. I have learned to engage with what goes on outside our borders so that I may possibly one day add something new to the American table of politics. Studying abroad has enhanced my own narrative, and has forced me to try to always think outside the box.