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Study Abroad and Domestic Study Away

Notes from Abroad: Krista in Italy

Krista Wickramasekera ’20 is majoring in Politics and studying in Italy at the University of Pavia.

Ciao from Italy! My name is Krista Wickramasekera and I am studying in Pavia, Italy for five months! It has been about a month since I have arrived and much has happened. I am enrolled in some great classes, explored so many cities and am embracing this new culture, just to name a few! I am enrolled in the World Politics and International Relations Master’s Program at the University of Pavia and am taking four classes: History of Diplomacy, Human Rights and International Law, Sociology of Development, and Comparative History of Government. The expectations for the curriculum are like Lake Forest, however we are only assigned reading for homework and a weekly reflection for one of my classes. I am most excited about my History of Diplomacy class because I have this grandiose dream that one day I may be a diplomat or work in an embassy. The material is very intriguing and studying current events makes! my dream seem closer than ever. Luckily, my program does not offer classes on Friday, so I use my three-day weekends to travel as much as I can. I am having a blast being able to explore Italy! So far, I have been to Rome, Lake Como, Cinque Terre, Milan, and Florence. All have been so enriching in different ways. Personally, I gravitate towards the more natural parts of Italy, like Cinque Terre and Lake Como. My next travels include Prague, Israel, Poland, Greece, Spain, France, Napoli, Genova, Capri, and Cremona! Aside from the learning, traveling, and connecting with new faces, I have been experiencing frequent waves of homesickness and lonesomeness. This is my first time leaving the United States and the longest time I have been away from my family and friends, so I am still adjusting. I have to remember to be patient, kind, and grateful that I have this incredible opportunity to learn from a different perspective, travel to new and wonderful places, and connect with ne! w faces. I frequently communicate with family and friends who ! keep me grounded and focused. I usually regard myself as an extroverted person, but I am noticing that I behave in this way once I feel confident in my environment. At the moment, I am still gaining this confidence. Typically, it’s a little nerve-wrecking making friends generally in a new place, but when you come during the second semester of the year, when everyone has made friends and connections, you really need to advocate for yourself and put yourself out there. Do not perceive my challenges as anything more than what life regularly throws at you, especially while at home. I knew studying abroad would be a challenging and uncomfortable at times, but I know that I grow the most when I need to be thinking of ways to improve the situation and get out of my shell. Studying abroad is an enriching, beautiful, and envious experience, but it is also difficult, isolating, and challenging, as any part of life can be. This probably won’t be the only time in my life where I am! feeling these mixed emotions so it is good to know that I am now cultivating the skills I may need later. The key is to remember that you will be home soon, this experience will go by like lightning, everyone you love is eagerly waiting for your arrival, and this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to truly grow and learn – especially outside of the classroom. When I scroll through the picture gallery on my phone, I am still taken aback by all the things I have seen and felt. I want to thank the Spike Gummere Foundation for generously contributing to this experience, my family and friends for supporting me, and Italy for being such a beautifully unique host!