When I reflect on my family life, I know how strong we all are and how we always look to each other in times of need. I really appreciate the relationship I have developed with my family and look forward to continued relationship growth. My parents and I became extremely close once I started into my freshman year of college because of the distance apart from each other. While studying abroad in Italy, I found it difficult to develop the same types of relationships like I have with my family or my close friends at school. I knew that it would be challenging to be thrown into a completely new country and culture, but I did not realize how much it would impact my relationships back home. With being focused on traveling and photographing Florence, calling my parents and friends to hear about their lives was not always the easiest. I made time to try to catch up, but I also wanted to make sure I did not miss out on my time abroad.
I think something so important about intercultural relationships would be that in order for them to work, it requires an understanding of the other culture and the way they live. If we cannot grasp what they are going through in their everyday lives, how can we have an effective conversation or relate to them? My parents managed to understand what I was going through abroad and how being so far away from home impacted my faith, friendships, and lifestyle. All of which gave me a different perspective when arriving back home to the United States. The connections I made while in Italy with my Italian professors and other study abroad students are especially meaningful because we all experienced the same type of difficulties of being in a new cultural environment. If one is going into a new culture, they must be fully immersed to understand it and get the most out of the opportunities.
With studying abroad, do not be afraid of being far away from home. Meeting new people is such a fun experience and develops one’s character! Gaining relationships with people of another culture is something so special and lasting for lifelong situations.