After my European Union study abroad, I honestly found my element: traveling. My study abroad this summer certainly forced me out of the preconceived Tech bubble, thereby testing my ability to adapt to an ever-changing environment. Instead of constantly seeking out activities characteristic to the Tech-centric bubble, I lived in a dynamic world where activities sought me out; I reacted to the constantly changing circumstances, in part not to miss out on opportunities but also because my study abroad mindset seemed more open and accepting than my Tech-focused one.
Although Tech’s campus is constantly bustling with activity, the campus still remains static in the sense that there is definitely a Tech bubble. I do acknowledge that this bubble leads to a nice sense of security and community that is much needed at a school where the classes are notoriously difficult and Clery Act alerts drop in weekly, but this Tech bubble restricts our ability for self-growth.
During my time abroad, I gradually began to comprehend that my actions can affect others, as I saw a world beyond Tech’s campus. Moreover, the Tech bubble reinforces this more limited worldview as students usually only consider their actions with regards to other individuals inside this bubble. I must admit that the typical Tech student constantly remains engrossed in numbers and formulas. By doing so, they can easily forget that their actions can carry universal dimensions. But, by studying abroad, Tech students can finally discover life outside the bubble and take note of the wider world.
After touring Auschwitz in Poland and attending briefings by a Human Rights Watch expert in Brussels, I saw the world from a more global standpoint than I ever did at Tech. I mean to thank Tech, as the school presented me with the opportunity to expand my outlook on life. I only wish to encourage students to experience life outside Tech.
Once students encounter life outside the bubble, their beliefs will surely be tested. Their preconceived ideas about other cultures will also be challenged. Even more importantly, their view of themselves will be forever changed. Although this may sound dramatic, I only make these claims because I personally experienced them. For instance, my belief in prioritizing economic gain over cultural preservation certainly changed as I visited Paris and saw how cultural history gives individuals purpose. Moreover, my belief in traditionalism transformed once I listened to an esteemed Polish professor claim that traditionalism only released individuals from an obligation to find answers for themselves; through these examples I hope to convey how pre-established beliefs can easily change in the real world. Ultimately, I hope that students will recognize Tech creates certain limitations, but said limitations can certainly be overcome by studying abroad.