Sepi Esfahlani | Rome, 2015
The idea of traveling always interested me. Experiencing new cultures, trying new cuisines, and living life as someone else was always seen as a far-fetched dream to me. Affordability was always the main factor that prevented me from seeking out the experience. While I was at Fullerton College, I learned about the study abroad program, and my parents encouraged me to no end to pursue the semester abroad in Rome. I felt hesitant, mostly because of my introverted personality. I went despite being worried that I wouldn't find a friend, much less a group of friends, and it was the best decision I ever made. I learned more about myself during those three months in Rome than I did in school, at work, or an internship. I learned how to live on my own, how to open up to a group individuals I had never met before, how to (kind of) get by on a new language, and most of all, how to tie in the experience to who I was, who I want to be, and how I wanted to achieve my goals and aspirations. I never considered myself an "artsy" individual, yet, taking art classes in a city that can be described as nothing short of art, was inspiring. Walking on the streets that Renaissance artists walked through, the streets that Fellini used in his films, and streets that were once considered the empire of the world taught me things that I still have yet to comprehend. What I do know is, that without study abroad, I wouldn't have met a handful of people that I will continue to be friends with and cherish forever, I wouldn't have learned to live on my own, I wouldn't have learned what my boundaries and comforts/discomforts were, and most of all, I would have still been that profoundly shy kid from Fullerton, California that is too scared to step outside of her comfort zone. Now, having graduated and working a full-time, adult job, I dream of going back in time and doing more with my time in Rome, Florence, Sorrento, Positano, and more. Without that experience, I imagine my work-inspired daydreams would be uninspiring and would never tempt me into the possibiliy of purchasing a one-way ticket to Rome and never looking back.
Angela Lessing | Rome, 2015
First and I believe most essentially: the personal impact a study abroad program has is tremendous. I can say firsthand that these opportunities are remarkably life altering and are the ones that will never be questioned or filled with any glimpse of regret. A few of the greatest lessons I learned while studying abroad were how to rely on myself and become more self-sufficient; to look at the world through a broader and fresh lens; and how to appreciate the smallest of gestures and the most seemingly mundane of moments. To be able to have an opportunity that teaches you so much about life, in really the smallest amount of time, is unforgettable. When I returned home from my program the appreciation I felt for myself, others, and my education, blossomed into an exuding and empowering confidence with a grounded side of humility. The thankfulness and gratuity I felt for the knowledge and global connections I gained, friendships and memories made will stay with me for life. Studying abroad in Rome shifted my perspective, challenged me, and ultimately still plays an enormous role in not only my education, now as a graduate student at UC Riverside, but really in who I am as a human being: an active agent of change, an ally, a volunteer, and as an empowered woman. My experience studying abroad would have meant nothing without my character growth, the realization of what it means to be a global citizen, and the relationships I fostered and still hold close today.