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Why I Changed My Major After Studying Abroad

by Carly Whiteside
AIFS Abroad student on Arno in front of Ponte Vecchio in Florence, Italy

Prior to spending my Spring semester of 2018 in Florence, Italy, I attended the University of Northern Colorado (UNC) as a Pre-Nursing major. I experienced some bouts of doubt about my chosen major and what I wanted to spend the rest of my life doing, but I also did not know what else I would want to do besides Nursing, so decided to stick it out. I also knew that I wanted to study abroad, but I wasn’t quite sure how that would fit into my academic plan. I decided to explore some different study abroad programs and fell in love with the AIFS program in Florence, and ultimately decided that I wanted to spend my semester abroad only taking general education and elective credits to give myself a break from the rigorous classes I was taking as a pre-Nursing major.

During my time abroad, I experienced immense change and personal growth. I did not know anyone else in my program prior to our departure, so I had to step outside of my comfort zone to make a new group of friends. I had to navigate the challenges that come with living in a different country, such as not knowing the native language or having to figure out how the grocery stores work. I had to deal with occasionally being homesick for my friends and family and everything that was familiar to me back home. Through all of those experiences, I saw myself become more confident, independent, and adaptable to new situations.

Prior to studying abroad, I was most comfortable with my routine and knowing what would come next; but studying abroad taught me how to be comfortable with the unknown because it would bring me new and unforgettable experiences. Not only did my time abroad allow me to change and grow as a person, but it also helped me realize what my true passions in life are, and maybe that a career in Nursing wasn’t right for me after all.

I have always enjoyed traveling and I knew that I wanted to travel as much as possible, but living in Italy and experiencing culture in a different country for longer than just a short vacation made me realize how much I wanted to incorporate that into my future career. I realized that I would love to be able to travel or live in different places as a part of my job. I also realized that I had a passion for history and learning new things, and being able to see and experience so many great historical sites while traveling in Europe brought me so much joy.

As my time abroad was coming to an end, I began to reflect on all of the feelings I was having about having to return to UNC as a Nursing student. I knew that I no longer wanted to be a nurse, and was starting to explore many other career paths, but I still felt unsure about whether or not I should actually make a change or continue to stick it out. I was a little scared to bring this up with my family, as well, because I was concluding my sophomore year of college. I felt like they might not understand where I was coming from and might think that my feelings towards changing my major were being driven by the fact that I was still processing my experiences and feelings about having to return home. I also knew that if I decided to just stick it out and go through with Nursing, I might regret it for the rest of my life.

After a long period of consideration, I decided to transfer to Metropolitan State University of Denver and change my major from Nursing to History for Secondary Education.

At first, my family did seem a little disappointed in my decision to change my major, because they all felt as though I would have made a great nurse. However, they understood how impactful my semester abroad was for me, and they supported me in my decision to make the change. I am so much happier now as an Education major, and every day I get more excited about my future career as an educator. I feel as though this will give me the opportunities to pursue my passions more so than nursing would have and I am proud that I made the change.

Studying abroad will change you in many ways. Some may find that they are even more passionate about their chosen career path, while others (like me) may realize that they may be better suited for something else — and that is okay! I am so glad that my semester abroad helped me realize that I did not want to pursue Nursing any further, and I am proud of how much I grew as a person throughout my time there. If it weren’t for my semester in Italy, I am sure that I would still be a Nursing major — although I would not have the courage to switch to something that I enjoy more.

If you are currently studying abroad (or planning to) and have some of the same feelings about what you are studying, just know that it is okay to make a change in order to have a fulfilling career in the future.

This post was contributed by Carly Whiteside, an AIFS Alumni Ambassador from the Metropolitan State University of Denver who spent a spring semester studying abroad with AIFS in Florence, Italy.

Pin image: Why I Changed My Major After Studying Abroad | AIFS Alumni Ambassador, Carly, Switches from Nursing Major to Education Major | AIFS Alumni Ambassador talks about switching from a Nursing major to an Education major | AIFS Study Abroad

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