“It was such a surreal experience,” the Potomac, Maryland, native said. “I was speechless getting to experience and appreciate all the architecture and history. I never would have imagined that is how my life could be.”
Castillo Schoonewolff took one Italian, one political science and two psychology courses while abroad. The psychology courses were her favorite and offered unforgettable out-of-classroom experiences, such as a “transformative” visit to Carcere di Bollate, a rehabilitation center for inmates, which opened her eyes to new perspectives.
“The exposure to Milan’s diverse educational environment was pivotal in broadening my perspectives within global and international studies,” Castillo Schoonewolff said. “Interacting with professors and classmates from diverse cultural backgrounds enriched discussions, deepening my comprehension of global issues. This experience not only elevated my academic abilities but also fostered a profound appreciation for international perspectives.”
Meeting new students was also an aspect of studying abroad that allowed Castillo Schoonewolff to grow as an individual and learn new skills. She entered the 300-person program without knowing a single student but took it as an opportunity to embrace the unfamiliar.
“You have to go in with an open mind, and no matter how nervous you may get, you have to try to make new friends in that group,” Castillo Schoonewolff said. “We are all here and in the same boat, and we are all nervous about it, but you just start by talking to people. Be yourself, be nice and be open to meeting new people.”
While balancing schoolwork and exploring a new city can be hard, Castillo Schoonewolff said she completed assignments as soon as possible so her work did not accumulate and cause more stress. She found the balance rewarding.