Five Ways America Changed While I Studied Abroad - Geneva College, a Christian College in Pennsylvania (PA)

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Study Abroad
December 3, 2015

Five Ways America Changed While I Studied Abroad

In the spring of 2015, I had the opportunity to live in the great city of Rome for three months. While I was there, I explored a city more ancient than the history books could possibly explain. I traveled to the corners of Europe, with and without friends, with no expectation of ever coming back to America. And while I was doing this, I believed that I was still the same person I had always been. I remained the same and America, my home, had changed. Here are five ways America changed while I was away:

  1. America shrunk. It’s not a large nation. In fact, the United States alone occupies 6.3% of the total land area of the world. That means that 93.7% of the world is still out there, waiting to be found by you and me.
  2. America grew. It’s enormous! We have 3,593,750 square miles of forests, deserts, lakes, cities, towns, and beautiful vistas with unappreciated value. When I was in Europe, I traveled with total abandon. I couldn’t see enough of it. I want to crave America like I craved Europe. 
  3. America became younger. When you travel across the ocean and into the Old World, you become transfixed with the enchantments that time weaves into buildings, statues, and art. You will gain a reverence for the progression of mankind through the funnel of time. And when you return, that 150-year-old church in your hometown won’t be nearly as impressive.
  4. America became easier. What is your everyday routine? You commute in your personal vehicle and shop for groceries once a week. In Europe, people do not have these luxuries. Many walk or bike their commute, and nearly everyone grocery shops multiple times a week. America caters to comfort. 
  5. America became lonely. After spending 90 days crammed into smelly city buses, asking old Italian men for directions, and sleeping in hostel rooms with dozens of strangers, I realized how isolated Americans are. Our homes are distant and methods of commute silent. We move through our days with private thoughts, emotions and ideas. America became a place of solitude.

Chicago

Actually, I realized that America didn’t change. What changed was the perspective with which I view this great country. This world has billions of people who do not live the American life, and understanding some of those cultures connected me to the collective human experience. When I returned to America, I became more aware of how the American lifestyle deviates from the collective human experience, and through the transformative experience of immersion in many different cultures, it seemed as though America had changed.

Benjamin Mills ’17


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