The time has come to say our goodbyes and return to the States.
We fly back to Boston on Saturday, so we do have almost 48 hours left, but the trip is definitely coming to a close.
Last night, we all walked to Port Meadow to enjoy the summer solstice. Our English professor decided our final exam for the course would be reading Shakespeare’s “A Midsummernight’s Dream”. Everyone was assigned a part and we acted out the ancient story as the sun set. Although yesterday was a scorcher (94 degrees!!!), fortunately it cooled down the by time we went to Port Meadow. I’ll admit we were hesitant to perform the play, but it was entertaining and a good excuse to watch the sunset in a beautiful place!
My peers and I have spent some time discussing what this trip has taught each of us and we have realized that we have learned very different lessons. Studying abroad is a unique experience and generalizing everyone’s experience is not fair. Each of us crossed the pond with different skills, weaknesses, comfort levels and experience traveling. That was my most notable lesson throughout my time here.
If you can exercise empathy and try to understand others before judging or letting it upset you, that is a tremendous tool. To assume others have the same experiences and comfort levels you do, is to do them and yourself a disservice. Although my peers all attend Salve and we have that experience in common, that does not streamline our other past experiences.
This trip has reminded me of the importance of taking a step back and being able to remove your bias to be able to relate better to others. When I travel to Italy, this will be even more important, as I will be meeting people from all over Europe and perhaps the United States.
Despite the differences in experiences, my peers and I were able to find similarities in our Oxford lessons. Many of us agreed that our time in England has reminded us that the United States is constantly watched by the rest of the world. Being in the U.S., I was aware of this, but not to the same extent that I am now. Globalization and modern mass media have contributed to this phenomenon, but so have our current leaders. It has been interesting to see satirical books about the U.S. and experience the difference in news coverage of terrorist attacks (between the U.K. and the U.S.). The world is more interconnected than ever, allowing nations to watch one another. This requires that the United States carefully consider the image that we are portraying of ourselves.
When I return to the States, I plan to continue broadening the sources I receive news from, being sure to avoid solely following U.S. news sources. As I study abroad again in the fall, having knowledge of how other countries perceive the actions of the United States will be important. This trip has taught me about how Americans abroad are impacted by the actions of American leaders. Embassy officials, servicemen and tourists are all impacted when U.S. leaders take action or make statements. This is an element of politics I hadn’t considered previously and something I am grateful to have learned before traveling to Italy in the fall.
As our trip comes to an end, I would like to say one more time how incredibly grateful I am to my support base, both at home and here. I couldn’t have done this without my family and friends.