One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned in Italy so far is that I have seriously taken for granted my understanding of the world. I’ve been used to being able to speak and be understood and to move around in the world easily. Up until now, I have never had to wonder if people I encounter on a regular day will speak English. I’ve known how to navigate the grocery store or post office. Even ordering coffee is a daily challenge.
Italy pushes me outside of my comfort zone, physically and mentally. There is a huge learning curve for being in a new country surrounded by a new language and a new culture. I’m learning patience and flexibility while navigating my temporary home this semester.
While this is often stressful or difficult, these language and culture barriers have been valuable lessons. The spheres that constitute my normal life are not the norm. There are other norms that I have to learn.
This is, I think, the most exciting part about studying abroad, this widening of perspectives and understanding about how the world operates.
We’re still at the beginning of the semester. OU students have returned to campus from studying abroad and international students are making their temporary home in Norman. We all bring new ideas and norms to the table and there is so much to learn from each other.
The OUFORUM team is excited to share some of these stories with you in our September issue focusing on global perspective at OU. By engaging in an open dialogue, we stand to learn so much about others and about ourselves.
Share with us your thoughts and own experiences of learning a global perspective.