Blogs, Culture Shock

Culture Shock: Why I chose to study abroad

Culture Shock is a blog that analyzes the experiences, from awkward to awe-inspiring, of moving abroad for a semester as junior Annie Cappetta studies in the Czech Republic.

Leading up to my semester here, and once I arrived, friends and family members were excited for me and asking all sorts of questions, most commonly “why did you choose Prague?” A more fundamental question, however, that no one seemed to be interested in was this, why did I choose to study abroad?

The lack of interest in this question makes sense, given that the reasons to spend a semester traveling throughout beautiful cities at a cost lower than that of living in Miami, taking less time-intensive classes, and making new friends from the University of Miami and across the world seem fairly obvious.

View of Charles Bridge and Prague’s New Town from the Old Town Bridge Tower. Annie Cappetta // Contributing Photographer

I like to think of myself as a person who has worldly interests and is fascinated by the history and socio-political culture in every place I see and study. Though, nothing frustrates me more than flying. And I can get a little cranky without a solid seven hours of sleep.

The truth is that when I first considered studying abroad, I dismissed it as a nerve-wracking experience where I would be away from my friends, responsibilities and comforts for an exorbitant period of time. Then, I realized what was holding me back from a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to live abroad — the reasons for which were so clear to everyone around me — I was too comfortable with my life and I probably needed some more discomfort.

A lot of the fears I had about coming here were realized, but there has been something so liberating in that. I was fixated on potentially negative things that could happen, and even though they did, my experience has remained overwhelmingly positive.

It sounds cliché to say I am “discovering myself,” or “growing as a person” just because I’m living in another country. When advisors and UPrague alums told me this would happen, I assumed that they were feeding me disingenuous talking points.

Writer and philosopher Albert Camus described the primary reason for travel, the very means through which it derives value, as fear: “Far from our own people, our own language, stripped of all our props, deprived of our masks (one doesn’t know the fare on the streetcars, or anything else), we are completely on the surface of ourselves. But also, soul-sick, we restore to every being and every object its miraculous value.”

That is exactly how I feel. I am not “growing” or “discovering,” so much as I am simply being reminded daily of pieces of who I am that have been pushed to the side in the comfort of my routine. I climbed a mountain with trails covered in ice. I went out to clubs and actually enjoyed them (I know, I know, I live in Miami. I’m just normally lame, if you haven’t gotten that yet). I was moved to tears at an art gallery. I am pushed to do things here that I would not consider at home, and in doing so have let these neglected pieces of myself breathe again.

Mountain outlook at Pravčická brána in “Bohemian Switzerland.” Annie Cappetta // Contributing Photographer

February 23, 2017

Reporters

Annie Cappetta


ONE COMMENT ON THIS POST To “Culture Shock: Why I chose to study abroad”

Around the Web
  • Miami Herald
  • UM News
  • Error

James Jones, who starred at Hialeah American High School, the University of Miami and was a part of ...

A classic good news/bad news scenerio arose for Miami Hurricanes football at the recent Atlantic Coa ...

The University of Miami football players are not the only ones getting preseason accolades. The guys ...

Defending national champ Clemson led all Atlantic Coast Conference schools Wednesday with five playe ...

This was a neat idea that Peter King’s Monday Morning Quarterback website rolled out just as NFL tra ...

Gomez, an expert on human values and attitudes in post-Castro Cuba, will serve as interim director o ...

The University of Miami announced the appointment of Cindy Munro as the new dean of the School of Nu ...

Read the latest entries from UM students who are spending part or all of their summer visiting diffe ...

University of Miami’s Office of Civic and Community Engagement harnesses technology to seek affordab ...

UM female scientists share some insight on women in science, science in Hollywood and how Wonder Wom ...

RSS Error: A feed could not be found at http://www.hurricanesports.com/. A feed with an invalid mime type may fall victim to this error, or SimplePie was unable to auto-discover it.. Use force_feed() if you are certain this URL is a real feed.

TMH Twitter Feed
About TMH

The Miami Hurricane is the student newspaper of the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Fla. The newspaper is edited and produced by undergraduate students at UM and is published weekly on Thursdays during the regular academic year.