I’m a big proponent of studying abroad. My time studying in Milan with the IES program and Universitá Cattolica del Sacro Cuore was absolutely life changing and I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything. Not only did it open my eyes to a different culture but it also gave me such a strong sense of independence. There were things I just couldn’t call my mom about and I had to figure out. Like forms, I really hate filling out governmental forms. Or when my credit card was declined at the Viktor & Rolf for H&M launch — thanks again for the loan Kate. There’s definitely a big difference between you and your friends when you come back from studying abroad but so what? Look at what it did for Audrey Hepburn in Sabrina. You’d be so lucky if you came back with that je ne sais quoi after a semester in Nantes — my friend Janet came back with a sick bod — crazy with French food, right?! — and a French football playing boyfriend.
Most people would guess that I chose Milan because of fashion. I actually had no idea I would end up working in fashion at the time. I chose Milan because I wanted to speak Italian (I thought I would have less of an opportunity to in tourist meccas like Florence and Rome), Milan was a hub (I was in a different Italian city or European country almost every weekend) and I love Northern Italian cuisine (pesto is my weakness). While there, I immersed myself in not just the Italian, but the Milanese way of life something that would be impossible to do in a week long visit. I made friends, American and Italian that I am still close with.
This all being said, I know everyone’s study abroad experience is different. Some people go abroad and only hang out with like-minded people or even people from back home, but at least it still pushes them out of their comfort zone, if only to order food. Also, I know studying abroad is definitely a luxury, one that I am infinitely grateful for. If you have the opportunity, definitely take it, there are options if timing is the problem, such as summer programs, or during your school’s break.