Column: You may not know why to do it, but you sure won’t regret it

Rick Wiltfong

Rick Wiltfong

I didn’t do it for the right reasons. To be honest, I don’t really know why I did it.

But I did, and choosing to study abroad was one of the best decisions I’ve made in college.

It is the most valuable experience I’ve had at the University despite taking place more than 4,000 miles from campus.

Sometime my spring semester of my junior year, a couple of my friends and I decided that we wanted to study in Verona, Italy.

Thoughts of great food, even better wine and an all-around good time appealed to us. So we signed up, and nine months later, off we went.

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To be honest, I had no idea what I was getting myself into.

There were moments of pure exhilaration, but plenty of other times I just wanted to go home.

And often, I experienced both emotions in the span of a few hours.

Staring at Michelangelo’s “David” in Florence, I wanted to pinch myself, convinced I was living a dream. But later, when my train back to Verona broke down, my cell phone stopped working and my ability to speak Italian seemed to have escaped me, I wanted to give up. Mom never seemed so far away.

The studying abroad experience is advertised as a way to teach you about another culture.

The experience aims to immerse you with different people, new ideas and unique opportunities. But, you know, after five months abroad, I learned more about myself than anything.

You really learn what you are capable of when you push yourself to meet new challenges. Talking with other friends who have studied abroad, we all seem to have come home with the same attitude: bring it on.

As future students of the University, you are blessed to be coming to school with amazing study abroad opportunities.

Take advantage of them or you will regret it.

You don’t have to do it for all the right reasons, but when you come back, you’ll know you’ve made the right decision.

Jon Hansen can sbe reached at [email protected]