Studying abroad has introduced me to a new sense of independence and leadership. The leadership skills I’ve developed have helped me in academics settings and in public spaces. They’ve been essential for my personal wellness and well-being. I’ve learned a great deal about leadership from my peers at the American University of Rome, from my professors, and from my flat mates.
The school I’m attending is relatively small. The campus is made up of about four to five buildings with a library and an auditorium. My class sizes range from about nine to eighteen students. The size is very similar to my home school and the campus culture is generally welcoming and supportive. Even on a small campus, it’s easy to recognize how much action and change takes place based on students’ initiative. This year was the first year the school held a week of celebration leading up to Homecoming. It’s opportunities like these events that truly create a supportive community.
A couple of the event organizers are my classmates and I’ve been able to see first-hand how their work extends into their personal social lives at AUR. They are always promoting events happening on campus, whether it’s Homecoming week, meditation sessions, or cooking lessons. Even though a large portion of the student population are on temporary study abroad programs, the work of the students who have a drive for student life is inspiring.
My professors have also taught me a great deal about leadership. Given the small class sizes, there is a lot of pressure to always be engaged with the material. Most of my classes are discussion based, where it’s equally important for the professor and the students to bring outside knowledge into class conversations. This is similar to my home school, yet it is refreshing and inspiring to experience this familiar teaching method in a new environment. It has taught me a lot about myself as an academic, like what I have to bring to a learning environment.
What taking care of myself looks like has changed tremendously since I’ve been abroad, and I’m so grateful to have a positive group of flat mates who have taught me a lot about being a leader. Living on my own has opened my eyes to how much goes into basic everyday necessities, like eating, time management, etc. The first month has been an adventure with getting into a rhythm, and thanks to my housemates, we’ve set a nice tone in our living environment.
As housemates, each of us contribute an important and dynamic aspect of leadership to the group. We’ve had to tackle logistical matters like purchasing communal items, sharing space, sharing house duties, etc. I’ve learned how to take initiative when bringing issues to the larger group. Living with a group of five new classmates in a new city has been such a beneficial and exciting experience.
I feel extremely supported and motivated by my housemates, classmates, and professors. Leadership skills are something I didn’t see myself learning so much about while abroad.