The Maroon

International experience changes perspective

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CAMILLE+FIESS
CAMILLE FIESS

CAMILLE FIESS

The Maroon

The Maroon

CAMILLE FIESS

CAMILLE FIESS

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Just over a year ago I embarked on an adventure studying abroad in Lima, Peru. While it’s hard to believe that this incredible experience has already come and gone, I am constantly reminded of how glad I am that I made the decision to study abroad. As cliché as the phrase “it changed my life” is, I don’t think I could better sum up how I feel about my semester in Peru.

I believe that any student who has the chance to study abroad should make the “life changing” decision to escape our wonderful Loyola oasis and explore the world beyond the Peace Quad and French Quarter. If you can appreciate the rich culture that is found in New Orleans, you can certainly understand and appreciate that there are many more wonderful and exotic cultures to be explored outside of the United States. Discovering a new culture (or cultures) is an invaluable experience. Not only did immersing myself in the Peruvian culture expose me to entirely new foods and customs, but it also made me feel more connected to all my Peruvian friends and family. While it is true that there are many differences between cultures, there is also an innate human culture and understanding that grounds us all.

One of the most valuable aspects of studying abroad was gaining independence. Although I hardly knew Spanish when I arrived, I had to trust myself to learn Spanish so I could travel around the large city alone. Since Lima is so spread out, I learned to appreciate time alone while traveling to meet friends. When I felt I had better mastered taking the buses I began to enjoy the challenge of finding my way on my own.

No matter where you choose to study abroad, there will be challenges and opportunities to explore and push yourself. Gaining independence from these explorations is extremely rewarding and liberating.

At first, I was nervous about studying abroad with complete strangers in a different country for five months. There were only 26 other students in my program, and every one of them seemed so different from me when I first met them. I found it even harder to find things in common with my Peruvian classmates and friends. I didn’t meet a single person who reminded me of one of my friends from home. Initially, this terrified me, but I soon began to appreciate the differences. It was refreshing and exhilarating to know I could make friends with people from all walks of life. I learned that some of the most valuable friendships are those with people who are most different from you.

Studying abroad shaped who I am today and who I will be in the future. I strongly encourage everyone who can to push yourself and immerse yourself in a different culture. I promise you will not regret it.

Camille Fiess can be reached at [email protected]

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