Sarah is one of our Arts Global Scholars, a scholarship program available for Bachelor of Global Studies students. Sarah studied overseas in Prato and shares some of the highlights of this experience.
Arriving in Prato, Italy to undertake a short study program was quite scary at first and I didn’t know what to expect. Being in a foreign country where their first language isn’t English is quite daunting as the simply notion of communication was a challenge in itself. Often we were seen as outsiders and for the first week it wasn’t unusual for a different meal to appear at our table from the one we thought we were ordering due to language barriers.
But it was a challenge that we learnt to embrace by using hand gestures or attempting to throw in some Italian words (that I never pronounced fully correct) in order to communicate when simply ordering a coffee or trying to have a conversation with locals on the street. The more time we spent immersing ourselves in the culture and language, the easier it became to communicate, sometimes even finding that people wanted to practice their English with you and teach you some Italian. This was an amazing experience, and it was one that saw me go from being an outsider who didn’t know the language, to an insider as I showed commitment and effort to becoming involved in the culture.
The more time we spent immersing ourselves in the culture and language, the easier it became to communicate
This really taught me that you always have to embrace your experiences and be open to involving yourself as much as you can in another culture. It also taught me that back home I need to embrace and get involved in all the different cultures around me and try and learn from them. As the Italian culture is so loving and has a big focus on community, it has impacted my need to be involved within society as well as feel more open and loving towards all cultures.
When entering a foreign country at first everything is new; the crazy driving, the language and the food. Yet the differences between Italy and home is what made my experience so beautiful. I fell in love with Italian culture, the food, the wine and the language. I mean when you can have pizza and pasta for nearly every meal, why wouldn’t you love the culture?
The great thing about Prato is that it is a small town that you really begin to fall in love with, I really didn’t want to leave after my short study program. That’s why studying abroad is so amazing; you get to immerse yourself in a completely new culture for a short or long period of time. Studying in the heart of Europe means everything is so close, that you can easily travel on a weekend during your study or before/after your tour has ended.
With new experiences there are always new challenges to face, but it is facing up to front these challenges that create even more amazing experiences. Taking a leap and studying overseas is one of the best things I have ever done and I can’t wait to do it again!