In the life of a graduate student one’s daily schedule is filled with demands and commitments. These are in addition to family and work-life obligations. For this reason, having the chance to “treat yourself” can be so invigorating. This is one of many reasons I decided to blend them in order to pursue study abroad. When I decided to apply to the SCSU Education Abroad program in Macerata, Italy, I was excited to step away from my daily routine to experience life as a graduate student studying abroad. I went to Italy as a student traveler, excited to learn, but also excited about the culture, food, and photography opportunities. When I returned from Italy, I had solidified confidence in my role as a doctoral student. The balance of travel, discussions with classmates, dedicated classroom time, and cultural experiences resulted in a robust, interactive, and meaningful experience.

 

The collaboration with the administrators and students at the University of Macerata (UNIMC) The tour of the University of Florence enhanced my respect and knowledge for the history of higher education and provided an opportunity to soak in some of this history. provided an opportunity to share ideas and present internationally. Being pushed out of my comfort zone as a student in a new country helped me to grow while I stepped out of my daily routine. The University of Macerata originated in 1290. There is something very powerful about absorbing the history in buildings that have provided the roots of our education system. The tour of the University of Florence enhanced my respect and knowledge for the history of higher education and provided an opportunity to soak in some of this history.

The tour of the University of Florence enhanced my respect and knowledge for the history of higher education and provided an opportunity to soak in some of this history.It was captivating to see handwritten entries in a card catalog housed in a library over 800 years old! Meetings and conversations with administrators from The University of Urbino reinforced my passion for the field of education while providing a new level of global knowledge.

Sweet treats and lessons

The culture, food, and photography opportunities in Italy did not disappoint. I had high expectations and they were surpassed. I shocked myself by becoming a coffee drinker for the first time in my life – falling in love with Italian Espresso! Even more surprising than my new-found coffee habit was how powerful the educational and personal lessons were as a result of my travels.

I remember sitting at an outdoor café during my second week of the study abroad experience, reflecting upon what I had learned and how I hoped the lessons would stick with me once I returned home to my routine.

What was surprising and made the strongest impression were the lessons gained that have helped me as a student and a professional in higher education. These lessons of confidence and support continue to help me as I am writing my dissertation. These include:

  1. Don’t get too comfortable. Being out of my comfort zone is when I learn and grow, so I continue to push myself by setting small goals.
  2. Self care is important. Traveling is exhausting and so is being a student. So enjoy small moments of reflection and rest so I can stay motivated to reach my next goal.
  3. Ask for directions if needed. Getting lost is part of travel and part of the dissertation process. I reach out for support when I need motivation or have questions. Don’t be afraid to ask questions!

 

Little did I know, the lessons gained from the study abroad experience in Macerata, Italy created confidence, tools and community-building components that I needed to persevere through the program.

I use these lessons, along with Italian espresso to continue to reach my goals. Having time away to realign yourself with your goals is a unique opportunity. For me, this was a time to refocus, recharge and grow. Please contact me with any questions as you explore the opportunity to study abroad. I am excited to be in this current GA position assisting others interested in this great opportunity!

For a more detailed account of what we studied and explored during the 2018 education abroad experience, see my journal entry at:

https://today.stcloudstate.edu/higher-education-students-spend-two-weeks-at-university-of-macerata/

Melissa Ryan
Higher Education Administration Doctoral Candidate – Cohort 10
meryan1@stcloudstate.edu

The Italy program is open and accepting applications for 2020! The Information Session for the 2020 Education Abroad to Macerata, Italy program will be held online on Thursday, November 14, 2019 from 6-8 p.m. CST. Please contact Melissa Ryan to RSVP: hiedga2@stcloudstate.edu

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