Aiden Herbert ’25
There are many opportunities in college that are waiting to be graciously utilized and made an unforgettable memory. Senior Ben Lee ’24, a double major in Political Science and Italian Studies, returned from the Rome Campus in the spring of 2023. Lee was quick to share his excitement of studying abroad and had priceless information on his experience. Lee’s love of the country not only became part of the propensity to study in Rome, but his connection to others was of paramount relativity. Not only was Lee able to go abroad with his close group of friends, but he created further connections with other cohorts part of Trinity and even other colleges. Benefitting from this experience did not stop here.“Being an Italian major, the experience was extremely relevant to my academic pursuits,” Lee said, “but people go for different reasons.” If you’re worried about meeting people, cease these doubts and allow your attention to observe the opportunity. “If the reservations that people are having are about feeling alone,” Lee said, “then that is a great time to look at the Trinity programs.” Do not fret if Rome is not your desired location. Trinity additionally has school affiliated programs existing in Shanghai, Cape Town South Africa and Vienna. There are external programs available in almost any country you can consider. You are not supposed to have all of the information or even know where you want to travel. The beauty of this process is finding the exact location which speaks to your heart and who you are as a person.
Obviously, Europe is different from America and Lee was able to speak to this. As for cultural differences, “There’s a lot,” Lee said, “and we figured them out pretty quickly!” The pace of life is much slower and there is no constant rush like in the U.S. “The Italians walk slow,’ Lee said, “even link arms, walking at a snail’s pace.” With days filled with naps and two-hour dinners, Lee came back with a profound insight and significant division between domestic travel and international travel. “I do think you get a lot more of a worldview,” Lee said. “You really get to see the diversity of the world on a much larger scale.” This is the charm of Europe. You are not confined to just one culture. Due to the efficiency of public transportation, traveling to other countries is like traveling to another state in America. Lee even said he knew of other students that were going to other countries every weekend. In a space like Rome, the extending variation of culture showcases an overflowing abundance of foods, art and even languages; and if language is one of your main concerns, listen to what Lee has to say. Upon being asked if the language barrier hedged his experience, Lee exclaimed, “I think it made it better. Being forced to take that step outside your comfort zone made the experience that much more valuable.” Lee said, “in the end, once you have adjusted and adapted, you feel like you really accomplished something.”
One of the virtues of studying abroad is its ability to make social connections. Due to the cultural adjustments, one is bound to find confusion, anxiety and challenge. However, not only is this something everyone is capable of overcoming, but it is necessary to the journey and experience. It is in this struggle you are forced to connect with people you have never met before, or even deepen further the relationships already established. Do not disregard the heavily individualized nature of this experience. “I do think going alone is super valuable,” Lee said. “You might even have a better experience.” Lee found that traveling with his friends was an experience he will forever cherish, but there were also some aspects of his abroad journey that were limited because of it. He found he was resorting to English a lot more, especially being an Italian Studies major, Lee found himself desiring the authentic practice and adversity of using the native language in its home. Doing it alone is always welcomed and sometimes emphasized. It will invite you to find yourself and develop the character inside. “You will be forced to go outside your comfort zone,” Lee said, “and you will feel a lot more accomplished at the end of that day due to that.”
In an individualized aspect, one must always remember this temporary change in lifestyle results in a remarkable experience of a lifetime. Due to the contrast in culture between the United States and Europe, especially in reference to lifestyle, Lee was forced to acclimate in ways he could never imagine. However, this was not for the worse. “If you think you want to do it, bite the bullet,” Lee said, “we all have anxiety. Go!” Throughout Lee’s journey there were many feats he had to overcome in order to feel comfortable. However, this was not until he learned the pace of life in which the Europeans do not practice occasionally, but lived in earnest. “Do not take yourself so seriously,” Lee said. “Work shouldn’t trump your life and your personal enjoyment of living.” Even upon his return, Lee is incorporating many of the European philosophies into his everyday life to help his present and future successes. Lee made it a point to state that we must fill our time advancing and bettering our lives. There is a very imperative role working does in one’s life, however, “It is not that deep, we can still get everything done that we have to,” Lee said, “but also relax a little bit and enjoy life.”
If you are considering, but have doubts that are swaying your desire, Ben’s story must encourage you to look to others’ experiences. Let their experiences be the positive influence that could turn out to be yours in the future. Remember what these four years are for, and most importantly, think about how you want these four years to turn out; one could only hope with no regrets!