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    Posted March 18, 2014 by
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    Why study abroad? Ask Michelle Obama

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    La Dolce Vita


    My name is Danielle Orihuela. I'm currently a Junior at Loyola University Chicago majoring in Political Science and International Studies with minors in Italian and Peace Studies. My study abroad experience took place during Spring semester of 2013 in Rome, Italy. When people ask me what my experience was like, I usually keep my response short and answer that "it was the best experience of my life." Why? First, it is difficult to summarize an entire 4 months into a quick conversation. Second, for me, there are no words that could do justice to fully express how amazing my study abroad experience was like. Yes, it was the BEST experience of my life, but it was more than that. It was more than learning and immersing myself in a new culture that I absolutely adore. More than making many new friends. More than eating all the amazing food to my heart's content. More than traveling around Europe or simply being in some place different from my usual surroundings. For me, studying abroad was the experience that not only changed me forever but also the experience in which I "found" myself. It may sound cliche, but it is the best way I can explain it. During my time in Rome, I witnessed one Pope step down from the Papacy and and was present when the white smoke spewed from the Sistine Chapel Chimney to greet a new one. I not only traveld around la bella Italia, but also traveled from Athens all the way to Northern Greece into Istanbul with stops along the way to see the Parthenon, the Monestaries of Meteora, Haiga Sophia the Blue Mosque and many other historical monuments. I wandered  and explored the streets of Paris on my own, taking in everything such a beautiful city has to offer and even made it to Madrid to eat paella, churros and chocolate! Everything I experienced, encountered and witnessed led to my "self-discovery" and left me with not only a feeling of self-fulfillment, but also memories and experiences that I will cherish for a lifetime. I know I can step out into the world as a more confident and independent individual. I have to say, I have been left completely Rome-sick! I can't wait for the day until I can return to the Eternal City. Nonetheless, for these reasons and more, I ABSOLUTELY ENCOURGE EVERYONE to study abroad no matter how short or long the duration of time. You won't regret it!

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