Myrah Contento, an environment, economy, development, and sustainability major studied abroad on the Knowlton School of Architecture European Cities and Sustainable Urban Planning Practices program in Summer 2022.
It was important for me to go abroad because I wanted to go out of my comfort zone while gaining experience that I would not be able to receive anywhere else. I love learning, and traveling, so being able to do the things I love partnered with a university that I’m so proud to be a part of is truly an opportunity of a lifetime. As an introvert who grew up in a small town, going to a different country for an extended period of time while not knowing the language well was a daunting task. Nonetheless, I persevered and am proud of myself for doing so.
The knowledge I gained and the people I met along the way, for sure made my experience memorable. That and going in without expectations; but rather, encouraging myself to just learn and experience as I go. I am already anticipating my next visit and cannot wait to explore more, and perhaps even attend graduate school there.
My biggest takeaway is my increased confidence in navigating public transportation, particularly rail. I gave myself the challenge to rely on maps and not use cellular data a majority of the time. Because of that, not only am I now better able to decipher metro maps, but I can maneuver my way around cities and am more quickly able to gain my bearings. What’s more, I was able to do so in a language I’m unfamiliar with. Academically, I’ve discovered just how significant it is to branch out from what you typically learn in classes by engaging in real-world experiences and discovering a new field and way of viewing the world. I had never taken a class pertaining to city planning, but I now view cities differently and find myself critically thinking in ways I had never considered before about the places I interact with.
It is critical to gain a new perspective through travel, in order to not only increase our understanding and appreciation of cultures and communities outside of our own but also to become more empathetic individuals. Without new ideas, approaches, and input, the world will never change. It is only from each other that we can learn and grow for the betterment of our surroundings and society as a whole.