Study Abroad Spotlight
Diane Portugal ('20) spent her first semester of freshman year in Strasbourg, France through Syracuse University's Study Abroad program. She reflects on her time away from the Syracuse University Campus and shares some advice to for her peers.
My first semester of college was kind of...different. Before I even got a chance to explore campus, I explored Europe—France, Germany, Austria, Italy, Belgium, Spain, Switzerland and the U.K. to be exact. I had not even stepped foot outside of American borders since my family moved to the U.S. when I was a year old. When I suddenly found myself on a plane to Strasbourg, France right out of high school, it was hard to believe it was all real.
The best thing I ever did for myself out there was travel alone. Sure, it’s fun to discover new food, people, and places with friends, but even my most extroverted friends found their solo trips to be their most rewarding adventures. Solo travel gives you a chance to slow down, think, and digest a new culture for what it is, far removed from the influence of any fellow, like-minded American. If you surround yourself with people just like you, you aren’t giving yourself a chance to immerse yourself among the natives who are just as excited to learn about you as you are to learn about their home country. Solo travel is where the superficiality of tourism ends and the true discovery begins.
And it’s not just about the discovery of the world around you—it’s about discovering yourself. Placing yourself in a new environment enables you to see yourself and your place in the world from new perspectives. You’ll find answers to your identity and so many more questions.