By: Rachel Abma, Langara College, winner of the BC Study Abroad: Stories from Abroad Scholarship
Study Abroad Destination: Italy and London
I have been fortunate enough to fit a bit of travel into my twenties, around work and school schedules, and although I have had a variety of trips with family and friends I was not as prepared as I anticipated for the experience I would have on a field study. For one thing, I was travelling with a group of 18 people I had never met, and for another I had no control over my itinerary; I love spontaneity as much as the next traveller but having little to no say in your destination, activity, and accommodation selection can be a stretch for even the most flexible person. Initially, the idea of being in Italy, a place that I have always dreamed of visiting, and not having control over my stay made me concerned. Was I getting program credits during my stay? Well, yes. However, I didn't feel thrilled by the idea that I might miss out on activities that I would prioritize at each destination. Reflecting back on my experience it is plain to see that some of my concerns were valid: I did not get to do everything I wanted to do, I did not stay in places I dreamed of staying, I did not eat everything that I imagined eating. This begs the question, did I enjoy my trip? Would I recommend this kind of intensive experience to others? My unequivocal answer is YES!
I am so thankful that I was able to partake in this program. This was not a vacation but an unparalleled learning opportunity and engaging change from my standard classroom environment. My instructors planned activities that I would never have been able to plan on my own like visiting with CBC’s news correspondent in Rome to learn about her experience in the country and as an inside source on Rome’s immigration crisis. While our assignment load was heavy, I found that it helped equip me to better understand my surroundings and search for deeper importance in landscapes, architecture, and culture.
This experience was incredibly rich. I can hardly wait to return and explore things according to my personal preferences, but I do not believe that on my own journey I could possibly have gained the same amount of respect or wealth of knowledge that this opportunity provided me with. As if all that was not enough, I would also like to include how important the relationships that I have formed on this trip have become to me; I started this program never having met any of the members that I would share this trip with, and although travelling with a large group can have its challenges, the individuals that I travelled with not only became great classmates and professors, but treasured friends. Each person brought their own unique personality, expertise, and perspective to our journey which added even greater depth to an already abundant adventure. Looking back at my photos I know that although the places we visited were incredible, the memories and experiences shared with my travel companions are the things that I will truly treasure for years to come. If you are ready for a chance to explore incredible new places, make unsurpassed friendships, and increase your knowledge by being immersed in culture all while gaining school credit? If so, I would encourage you to stop hesitating, enroll yourself in a field study!