#StudyAbroadBecause... Why Keep the World Waiting?

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Sydney Dydiw is an Industrial Engineering senior at the University of Pittsburgh in Pittsburgh, PA. She completed three co-op rotations with Connors Group and is the Outside the Classroom Curriculum [OCC] Director of Brand Ambassadors; Additionally, Sydney is the National Organization of Business and Engineering [NOBE] Vice President- External as well. She loves spending time with her dog and reading. 

What motivated your decision to go abroad? How/why did you choose where to go?
I’ve always wanted to travel and experience other parts of the world to have a better understanding of other cultures. Reading about places is not the same as actually being there. I chose to go to Florence, Italy because my program was based on the Renaissance in Italy, which is my favorite time period in history. Florence was the heart of the Renaissance and in the heart of Tuscany, where some of the best food and wine in Italy is. 

Sydney Dydiw: #StudyAbroadBecause... Why Keep the World Waiting?

What was your experience like? What is your favorite memory? What were some challenges you observed?
I loved my time abroad, especially as I had never been outside the country before and then ended up travelling to almost 10 Italian cities. My favorite memory was a simple one. If was my third day in Florence, and I decided to go to class early by myself. I played my favorite Italian music on my headphones and walked around the historical center Florence under the glow of the morning light. At this point, I felt comfortable navigating the city, and it finally hit me that I was in Italy. I am in a city that I have always wanted to visit, and I feel at home. 

Sydney Dydiw: #StudyAbroadBecause... Why Keep the World Waiting?

Challenges were definitely the language when the locals did not speak much English, figuring out travel to other cities via train or with a tourist company, and spending money (converting money, fees on credit cards, having enough cash, wanting to spend lots of money but knowing I couldn’t). Money was a huge hardship because there were so many more things I wanted to experience and items I wanted to buy but didn’t have the funds to do so, which I guess is understandable given that I am a college student. It makes me excited to go back knowing that when I do I will have the means to do almost everything I want without monetary restrictions. 

What skills did you develop from your experience? Do you feel changed from your experience abroad? 
I feel that going abroad didn’t give me a huge personal development or epiphany moment that many students have had. I loved my time abroad, though. I feel that I justified my love for other cultures and travel through this experience. I travelled on my own and proved to myself that even in a foreign country and I have a great sense of direction. I feel more international travel-savvy now.

Sydney Dydiw: #StudyAbroadBecause... Why Keep the World Waiting?

Has your experience helped you get to where you are today?
Yes and no? I went abroad for a month in-between school and my last rotation of my co-op. I feel that I had a long vacation in which I could relax before starting a stressful summer. I also made some important decisions abroad. I had the opportunity to get closer to a former acquaintance, who gave me relationship advice. I give her credit for helping me get the courage to ask out my now boyfriend.

What advice would you share with other students who are thinking of going abroad?
Don’t feel pressured! You don’t have to go out every night or feel pressured to party and spend money on large dinners with others on the trip. Don’t feel pressured to go along with others on expensive trips on weekends. If you like the friends you made but find you don’t like travelling with them, then travel by yourself. This is your time that you won’t get back! At the same time, if you do find people you like travelling and spending time with, then compromise on what activities you will do. 

Sydney Dydiw: #StudyAbroadBecause... Why Keep the World Waiting?

How has international education impacted or influenced your cultural identity?
I don’t think it really has. I’m 1% Italian and don’t view it as part of my identity. I do feel that I feel more secure as an American. I enjoyed Italian suburban living but feel more at home in large cities with our own culture. I did have a lovely conversation at the last dinner we had as a group with a visiting professor from Belgium. My classmates and I were able to show how educated young Americans are and the differences we feel amongst ourselves on certain topics. Americans can be lumped together for certain things, but mostly we differ in opinions. We as young people are not the government views that the world now sees us as having. 

#StudyAbroadBecause... Why Keep the World Waiting?

Sydney Dydiw: #StudyAbroadBecause... Why Keep the World Waiting?

 

Stasia Lopez is the Global Education Editor for Wandering Educators and is also a Career Consultant at the University of Pittsburgh. She graduated with her Master’s degree in Educational Leadership in Higher Education and Student Affairs from Western Michigan University and earned her Bachelor of Science in Business Administration degree in Hospitality and Tourism Management from Robert Morris University. Stasia is passionate about international education, travel,  and loves working on a college campus. She’s lived in four different U.S. states (Florida, Michigan, South Carolina, and Pennsylvania) and also studied and lived abroad in Rome, Italy. Stasia lives in the Pittsburgh area with her husband, Fernando, precious daughter, Maya, and playful kitty-cat Zorro.

You can read more of her #studyabroadbecause interviews, as well as articles on various forms of international education at home and abroad, here.

 

All photos courtesy and copyright Sydney Dydiw 

 

 

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