By: Pooja Bhatti, British Columbia Institute of Technology, winner of the spring 2019 BC Study Abroad: Stories from Abroad Scholarship
Study Abroad Destination: Italy and Austria
As I sit in a hotel in Italy, I reflect on how my time at the BCIT field school has been so far. I believe the best way I can describe it is like this: it has been amazing, but it has also been a little not so amazing.
I came into field school with no expectations. I heard from students that travelling abroad was going to be this incredible experience where you make the best of friends and come back a changed person, but what people don’t tell you are some of the downsides of studying abroad.
To begin positive – studying in Italy and Austria has given me some amazing perspective on different cultures that I’m not exposed to. People in Europe live in the present and don’t rush with anything. Unlike how Vancouver is very go-go-go, Europeans know how to take it easy.
Italy, in particular, has some of the most amazing food I’ve ever eaten. Carbs, cheese, and ice cream are my favourite foods, and to be in a place where I get to eat all of that whenever I want? Dream come true.
As for friends – I connected with a couple of girls from BCIT prior to the trip, and we agreed to travel together to be safe. I had no idea that these girls would become some of my best friends. It’s a rarity for me to meet people who I connect with so fast, and who appreciate me for who I am and my perspectives on life.
Now with anything, there’s always a downside.
There’s an interesting fact about studying abroad - there’s studying involved. In all the excitement of seeing the city and eating as much food as possible, it’s easy to forget about all the assignments and projects, and with only three weeks in this program, there isn’t really time to slack off.
I’ve also never been almost run over so many times before. In Europe, cars don’t seem to understand the right of way. It’s more of ‘get out of my way’.
As for the people; sometimes you make amazing friends, but sometimes, you meet people that aren’t as open to getting to know you or choose to not be nice. When you’re travelling abroad, this can be upsetting.
However, if there’s anything I’ve learned, it’s to be in the present, enjoy the moment with the friends that do matter, and don’t forget about the schoolwork.