• How Studying Abroad Allowed me to See the World

    I didn’t always love to travel. Actually, in the grand scheme of things, I’ve loved it for a just a short time. I would be downright mad as a kid when my parents packed us into their van for weekend adventures. It meant missing my Saturday morning cartoons, a GROSSLY unfair thing to do in my mind. I didn’t like going away for summer camp. In fact, I made it just two days at tennis camp before calling my parents in tears, asking to be picked up. I moved away for college, but just a three hour drive away – just far enough but not too far.

    It’s not that I wasn’t curious about other places. I have memories as a child of standing in my parents garage, staring at a world map that hung there. Splayed across the pastel-colored continents were little red pins, marking my father’s travels. What would it be like to be in those far off places, I wondered, but just as quickly I would turn and run to our backyard to play. Why would I need to travel when all the joy and happiness I knew was found right there at home?

    It’s that sort of mentality, combined with a fair deal of shyness, that kept me close to home for most of my life. If you’ve been following this blog, you know that I have a very different philosophy about travel today. So what gives? What happened between the Saturday morning, cartoon missing tantrums and taking a year off to travel the world?

    A rash decision made my final year of college.

    Checking out what I looked like as a study abroad student 11 years ago

    Driven by a foolish desire to impress a worldly boy, I signed up to study abroad for a year. Sadly, the boy remained unimpressed but it was a decision that changed my life.

    As a lifelong lover of old masters (that’s art-speak for guys that painted a long, long time ago), I chose to study in the ground zero of Renaissance Art: Florence, Italy. I shared an apartment with seven – that’s right – seven other girls, just five minutes from the Duomo, Florence’s central cathedral. The location was unreal, the roommates were amazing and the wine flowed like $2 magnum bottles should. Wine aside (sort of), the experience was a once in a lifetime slap in the face. Finally I understood what all the travel hype was about.

    I came home alive, buzzing with the love of travel, thirsty for more. It took that initial step out the door – to Italy, in my case – to see what traveling is about. It’s not just a pin on a wall map (though you can be sure I’m going to have one of those in my future garage). It’s a glimpse of what else is out there: the amazing people, the awful people, the delicious food, the crazy there’s-no-way food stuffs, the foreign culture that feels just like home and the culture that opens your eyes.

    Sharing the study abroad experience with me were seven amazing women – who ten years after our tear-filled good-byes, I was able to meet up with again recently in New York. Many of them are married. Some have children. All of them are just as great as I remembered them. Ladies, if it wasn’t for our time together 11 years ago, I wouldn’t have had the courage to see the world.

    Thank you.

    SociBook Digg Facebook Google Yahoo Buzz StumbleUpon

    No related posts.

    Related posts brought to you by Yet Another Related Posts Plugin.

    This entry was posted on Monday, September 20th, 2010 at 7:57 am and is filed under Notes From the Road. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.
  • Anonymous

    Great piece! I related to this a lot. I also studied abroad in Florence, and I lived in an apartment with eight other girls. One of them just got married, another is married with a baby, and it’s really nice to see everyone doing well as we grow up. As for me, a month from today, I leave for seven months in Southeast Asia! Wanderlust will never be gone, and I’m grateful for that.

    I can’t recommend study abroad enough. If anyone out there is considering it, DO IT!! You’ll be changed forever — in a good way.

  • Jaime

    Thanks for your kind words Kate! I couldn’t agree more. Studying abroad was a great first step for me.

    And can I say JEALOUS that you’re spending 7 months in SE Asia. That’s awesome. Please gorge yourself on mango sticky rice for me. I love that stuff. :)

  • Engr Ghayyourahmed

    The word “Study Abroad” passes on to options in international education accessible to students wishing to get degrees from universities and colleges in other parts of the world.

    Its a nice blog for the people searching for study Abroad

  • Jenny

    One thing I wish I had the opportunity to do was study abroad. Glad it was able to open your horizons to a different life. It’s funny looking back at things in the past and realizing just how much of an impact they’ve made on your life today… you know?

  • dunklea

    Hi Jamie, great story! I know my own experiences studying abroad inspired me to continue traveling the world. With your permission, I would like to share this story with our community at I would of course give you full credit, and link back to this original post. You can contact me at




    I love your site, It is a pleasure to visit.
    I have added your site to my site.
    Please link my site to your site.

    Thank you!

  • Anonymous

    great post, im studying in Malaysia at the mo and it gives such a good insight into other cultures =)

    johnny –

  • As We Travel

    Awesome post! Must have been so much fun to reunite again after such a long time!

  • Ryan Copp

    Your post take me 7 years back when i used to stay with my 3 roommates..At that time i m pursuing my Engineering…..We all guys always try to do different activities like one is a good skier,other is a good Rapper etc…..We often make tours in our vacations to visit new places…And now the story after 7 years is same as like you…Miss you friends..

    villa spanje


    Its such a great opportunity , I wish I had done it.

  • Bluegreen Kirk

    Though you did it to impress a boy it turned out to be a great decision for you. Thanks for the post and continue to enjoy your travels.

  • Buy Supplies

    Buy Supplies…

    [...]How Studying Abroad Allowed me to See the World | Seat of Our Pants[...]…

  • Garima Shah

    this is fantastic post thanks for sharing
    Property dealer in Delhi

  • laura

  • laura