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Discovering Your Past and Present Self Through International Education

by Mia Castelveter
AIFS Abroad student

For this year’s International Education Week (#IEW2017), we asked our Student Bloggers to reflect on the importance of travel, cultural exchange, and the impact of study abroad. Here’s what Mia of AIFS in Salzburg had to say.

International education and travel are extremely important in shaping and molding life experiences and cultural awareness. They have the incredible ability to provide us with so much knowledge and information about the world we live in.

As the daughter of two flight attendants, one of which served a 35-year career in the United States Army, travel was a large part of my life growing up. I have been blessed with so many wonderful opportunities to see the world that have enabled me to develop a wide perspective on the world we live in. Yet, there is still so much of the world to see.

While these opportunities were sometimes last-minute, they provided ample spontaneity and adventure. In middle school, my parents and I flew to Rome, Italy for the day. The trip was extremely quick, but we saw the entire city. When I graduated from high school, my mom and I took a trip to Tel Aviv, Israel to learn about some of the world’s most sacred history. These are only two examples of my international travels, but I also experienced significant travel throughout the United States. Each new station meant a new place to discover. The world was at my fingertips.

I think an important point for jump-starting your time as a travel extraordinaire is to take a look at your own ethnic or cultural background. Let that inspire your travels. History is so important — whether good or bad — and it is something that should not be forgotten and should be learned about. Getting in touch with your roots can enable you to think about what your life might have been like if your ancestors did not come to America, and even to help you discover what makes you you. The United States has not been around for very long and is very young in comparison to the rest of the world. The amount of history that exists in other countries is truly astonishing. Many Americans are wonderful mixtures of histories that have been combined from a number of places. International ancestry can date back thousands of years. Exploring your family history can lead you to discover parts of your cultural background you may not have had any idea about.

Travel is so important because it allows us to expand our horizons. It can even change or confirm an individual’s beliefs that are already established. Every city in every country has something new to experience. Even if you return to a place you’ve already visited, there will always be new adventures to go on.

Travel can provide so much insight to the world we live in. There is so much unique culture and tradition to dive into everywhere you go. For example, in Austria, Bavaria, and South Tyrol, the traditional dress is called a dirndl and lederhosen. In Italy, they are known for their leather goods, and leather can be bought at an affordable price — all “vera pelle.” Each country has customs that are unique and special to their country. Until you visit there and experience it for yourself, you may not realize how much there is to see. There are so many hidden treasures of the world.

International education is a life experience. There are so many different ways of living and so many different cultures — and seeing the world exposes you to that. No way is right or wrong, but simply different. That is one of the greatest aspects of travel — and travel is something that should be fully embraced.

This post was contributed by Mia Castelveter, who is studying abroad with AIFS in Salzburg, Austria.

Discovering Yourself — Past and Present —Through International Education | AIFS Study Abroad | International Education Week, #IEW2017

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