Thursday, February 14, 2013

Travel: the transformative power of the SAIS experience

Before coming to SAIS Bologna, I knew the experience would transform my intellectual landscape. I was not quite prepared for another powerful aspect of the experience.

Castelo da Pena taken from Castelo dos Mouros (Portugal)
by David Gorgani
If you come to SAIS, it will change you, and not just academically speaking. You will leave SAIS a different person. Here's what I mean.

Before arriving at SAIS Bologna, I considered myself relatively well traveled for my age. I had lived in New Zealand for six months during high school; visited Washington, DC, New York City and the U.S. West Coast, and traveled through large parts of Europe.

Most readers will be familiar with the uneasiness one can feel during one's first days abroad, the sense of being lost and a vague desire for the comforts of home. I am fortunate enough to be able to return to a loving family in Germany and great friends. But now that is no longer enough.

I have become a travel and culture enthusiast thanks to my fellow SAIS Bologna students who have traveled through the remote areas of the Baltic states, hopped through European capitals and trekked through the deserts of Morocco. Like them, I want to venture forth, log my own experiences and make the absolute best use of my time by travelling to far-flung places.

Relaxing in Fez
by Marina Grushin
At SAIS you are almost sure to have someone in your class who has been to those destinations and who can help you with contacts and advice, and perhaps even find you a travel companion. Bologna is a travel hub, with convenient train connections to the rest of Italy and Europe, and an airport that is served by two low-budget airlines -- much appreciated by budget-conscious students -- plus the major carriers.

SAIS has transformed me into a travel enthusiast who is eager to expand his horizons with friends from all over the world. It took only one semester.

This is part of the power of the SAIS experience.

Felix Amrhein (BC13)

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