How studying abroad changed this student’s life

By Michele Provenzano, Creative Writing student

Something I know far too well is how easy it is to get stuck in your comfort zone. Student life can become monotonous. In my first year at Douglas, I was stuck in my daily routine, taking few risks, reaping few rewards and having few stories to tell. Then I saw posters advertising the Italy Field School.

I knew it was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up. I’d been yearning to travel abroad for years – I’d never even been on a plane before! The prospect of immersing myself in an unfamiliar culture excited me like nothing else. It also scared me like nothing else, but I had faith it would be worthwhile. And boy, was I right.

From staring at the great Renaissance artworks in the Uffizi Gallery, to sauntering across Ponte Vecchio and watching the sunset over the Arno River, Florence provided a whirlwind of excitement and an abundance of culture to take in.

I stepped foot in the grandest of galleries and the most glorious of churches. I strolled down cobblestone streets and, despite not speaking the language of the locals, felt strangely at home. As a Creative Writing student, I seek inspiration wherever I go. But in Italy, I barely had to look for inspiration – it found me. It found me on every street corner; each centuries-old building looked like it was ripped out of a history book. It found me at Piazza Santo Spirito, the lively square near my apartment where people would dance as music thumped into the night. It found me in the small town of Marciana Marina on the island of Elba, where the streets were lined with bright flowers and each day was a beach day.

The Italy Field School was my first real travel experience. At times, it was difficult to adjust to the new surroundings and the language barrier, but that’s what made the trip so meaningful. I learned so much about myself and, most of all, about how to overcome challenges and stay resilient. The reality of pursuing writing is that I’ll have to deal with plenty of rejection. Resilience is a crucial tool for me to hold onto, one that was sharpened by my field school experience.

The Italy Field School truly showed me how much joy can be found in the unexpected little moments. I never would have expected a stranger to spray me with a water gun as I walked down the street in Florence, but it became one of my fondest memories. I urge other students to participate in field school opportunities, not only for the personal growth and educational advantages they provide, but to discover the funny, weird and wonderful stories they’ll inadvertently find themselves a part of.

The next Italy Field School is happening Summer 2020! Want to learn about all of the cool international opportunities available at Douglas College? Visit the Global Engagement team at the New Westminster Campus, room S2805 or read more here.

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