Here is Your Sign to Go Abroad


Regan McEnroe/Villanovan Photography

A photo of Plaza Mayor from Regan’s junior fall semester abroad in Madrid, Spain.

Regan McEnroe, Staff Writer

College alone is an experience uniquely its own. Being out of the house and on your own for the first time, college requires certain levels of independence while still providing you with many home comforts.

Among these comforts are meal plans to ensure you are never without a warm meal, on campus housing which eliminates any sort of commute to or from campus and, of course, the fact that you still are with- in the confines of the United States, in an environment somewhat similar to wherever you grew up. Then, you go abroad.

This experience changes everything. Your sleep schedule, your eating habits, the people you are surrounded by and your general way of life are all subject to change. The question becomes, is this change for the better?

Going abroad last semester was easily the greatest decision of my life thus far. I loved absolutely every- thing about it and am a firm believer that almost any other student would as well.

Being in a new country, surrounded by new places and people is the ultimate form of discomfort. It pushes you completely out of your comfort zone and forces you to do the only thing you can: adapt.

Junior Angela Ferrigno recently returned from a semester in Urbino, Italy.

“I can safely say it changed who I am today,” she said. “I think it was an experience completely differ- ent from anything any college student can experience on a regular basis. It took me out of a place I felt comfort- able and it forced me to completely reinvent myself. You have no other option but to make it work because you can’t run away.”

An important aspect of going abroad is that there are no familiari- ties. There are no local chain restau- rants or stores you recognize, gener- ally speaking, and no family close by to go visit when you are homesick. It is only yourself and a new, exciting world right in front of you.

With this being true, I would never change my abroad experience for anything. I think I speak for all study abroad students when I say that my semester away taught me more about life than I could ever have been taught in a classroom, and allowed me to grow as a person in ways that I never saw possible.

Junior Bella Irwin spent last semester in Amsterdam.

“Going abroad was one of the best decisions I have made in college,” she said. I made the most memora- ble experiences and was able to go and see different places, people and things I will never forget. Exploring and learning in a new environment enabled me to grow and evolve as a student and person.”

One key takeaway that I had from this semester was that I gained a new perspective on what is really important in life.

That is, the only thing that matters is that you are happy. It doesn’t matter how much money you make, how big your house is, or how fancy your job is. All that matters is that you are able to make a life for yourself and enjoy it.

My experience abroad also taught me an appreciation for culture. The cultural habits of the United States do not exist in Europe.

No one cares where you are from. People just want you to respect them and their culture. I studied abroad in Madrid last semester which was so rich in a culture different from anything I had ever experienced.

Shops and restaurants close in the middle of the day for “siesta,” people do not eat dinner until 10pm, and bars and clubs are open until the early hours of the morning.

Living in Madrid, if anything, showed me that Spanish people truly take advantage of the 24 hours given to us each day.

Additionally, a typical college student in Madrid does not live in a dorm or apartment on their univer- sity’s campus. In fact, no one does. Students commute from all around the city each day, some traveling as long as 90 minutes to get to campus.

I had a 45-minute commute to my campus each day. This was a huge change for me, given that almost any building on Villanova’s campus can be reached in about a 10-minute walk.

However, doing this commute every day held me accountable. I had to be awake and headed to the train station an hour before my first class if I wanted to make it on time.

Though I am glad I no longer have to make this commute, I am grateful for it, because it introduced me to new responsibilities I never had to worry about before.

Going abroad was the most magical experience ever. I loved every second of it and I think anyone else would too. Go see what this beautiful world has to offer.