CSU Voices and Views

Traveling Towards Graduation

By Laura Parada
San Francisco State Student

Laura Parada in Florence

Laura Parada in Florence

I boarded the plane to Italy fully aware that my life would be forever different. The decision to study abroad was quick, as I can imagine it is for most students. The hurdle was not the decision but actually transforming it into a reality.  My financial and academic plans needed to line up and I did not want my trip to prolong time to graduation.

After applying to study abroad, I waited for the letter that would tell me the fate of my third year at SFSU. Luckily, I was granted the opportunity to study in Florence, Italy, which was a location I had only dreamed of going to. With that I embarked on my first international trip and my first solitary travel experience.

The stories, smells and feeling of being abroad are little thought bubbles that will follow me for the rest of my life. Since returning to my childhood home in Southern California, I am now looking ahead to my final year at SFSU and slowly discovering how the experience changed my view of education.  I can imagine that I will be doing this for the rest of my life.

As my mind continues to dwell on a million of memories in Florence, I have to focus on my post-study-abroad life. I am graduating soon. Could anything be scarier? After my friends and family inquire about my year in Italy they ask, “What happens now?” I don’t know yet, but I do know that I am closer to the answer than I was a year ago.  However, dwelling on life in Italy won’t help me answer that question.  But, I do have a stronger sense about what I want to do, where I want to be and how I am going to get there.  I realized that my education does not end with a diploma.

We as American students have the world at our fingertips. Study abroad is like picking up a big book.  The essential first step is opening the cover. And when we dive into the first couple of chapters, the book’s length is no longer daunting. The text on the page fades away as we lose ourselves in the story.

Education is all around us. All we have to do is seek it out.

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