Blog by Shauniece Drayton, UW Bothell Community Psychology Major, Study Abroad–Rome
My name is Shauniece Drayton, a sophomore majoring in Community Psychology and possibly Global Studies at UW Bothell. I have always dreamt of traveling to Europe and experiencing the people, culture, and foods. When the opportunity arose to participate in the Rome cultural-enrichment trip, I immediately said yes. Like many students who consider such adventure, I was in shock that I would leave the comfort of my home and go abroad to study. I was worried about the cost. How would I afford the trip? How would I manage my way around a strange country without knowing the language? How would it feel to be so far from home? Would I be able to plug in my hair dryer? I felt excited and nervous all at the same time, especially when the departure date crept closer.
In hindsight, these worries seemed silly because those were not the things that I remember the most. The Rome study abroad program provided me an opportunity to engage with other UW students (Seattle, Tacoma) and foreign students about their college experiences, hopes and dreams. I had an opportunity to tour the Colosseum and feel the history of the place. Our group also toured St. Peter’s Church. We learned about the forum and the 7 hills of Rome, I even threw a coin into the Trevi Fountain! These are just a few memories that will be forever engraved in my mind. I am also grateful for the unexpected friendships built over the two-week period and how they have helped me think about my outlook on life and education.
We had class every day of the trip with the exception of one day—freedom in Rome!!! I remembered being tired because of the lack of sleep from the night before; but regardless of how tired I was, I woke up full of excitement and ready for the day ahead. I looked forward to learning new Italian words, interacting with the local people, and exploring every corner of the city. Having time away from home free of typical distractions, I had time to reflect on my education at Bothell. Prior to my Rome experience, deciding on a major was all about employment prospects after college. My study-abroad experience gave me the opportunity to slow down and see the world through a new lens. I am surrounded by an amazing world and I am just now beginning to discover it. When we step outside of our daily lives, we realize our world is much bigger than Washington State and, for that matter, America. I gained so much knowledge on world history that affected me in a way that went beyond classroom lectures and textbooks. I began to make connections and understand how world history had greatly influenced American culture and our way of life. Foreign travel not only taught me about other cultures and their people, but I learned something about myself and how I engage others in dialogue about their backgrounds and traditions.
The time spent in Rome gave me an opportunity to discover who I am and to see myself in a different context. I feel as though I discovered myself, defined my interests, and started to shape who I am. This would not have been possible if I had not taken a chance and left the comforts of my home. I strongly feel my study abroad experience enhanced my education at UW Bothell. It inspired me to look at higher education differently. I still have so much more of the world to explore. Establishing a substantial career after earning my degree is important, but taking time to explore the world is equally meaningful.
I don’t believe where you choose to study abroad is critical. It’s more about having the global experience from traveling abroad that will change your way of thinking, learning as well as your outlook on life. It really gives you a better perspective of the United States from abroad. I am so happy that I took a chance and let go of any reservations in order to explore the world outside of today’s Western society. Studying abroad was one of the best educational and personal experiences of my life, and I would definitely do it all over again. It’s a life-changing experience that will forever be a part of my education at UW Bothell.