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Beyond Italy: A Student Shares the Lasting Changes and Opportunities of Studying Abroad

An article by Dalton Provost

Perugia welcomes students each semester to learn about themselves and the world around them

As the intent of the programs goes, the study abroad experience presents students with a chance to immerse themselves in diverse cultures without forfeiting their academics. It is a time for personal growth and internationalization, but as many students may share, the scholastic elements tend to become less emphasized once overseas as they pursue travel and other opportunities. I, Dalton Provost, as a student at Umbra in the Fall of 2015 found myself considering how to manage school around travel and not the other way around. It was one course, however, that unexpectedly gave way to connections and experiences I had left unconsidered. The course, Community Based Research in Psychology, now known as The Science of Behavioral Change: A Community-Based Approach, led by Dr. John L. Dennis, provided me and other students with opportunities to engage in local research projects designed to benefit the Perugian community. Engrained into the course was experiential learning – known as the flipped classroom – where lectures became collaborative meetings with student-led discussions. Students formed data collection methods, used scientific readings to create materials, and in the end, those that performed highly were invited to continue the work, with the opportunity to become co-authors on the published product. I quickly became thoroughly engaged with the class, and eventually continued working with Dr. Dennis after my time abroad. Two years later, I returned to Perugia, this time dedicating my experience to my academic and career goals.

Upon returning, I published articles in peer-reviewed journals, attained a position as a freelance scientific manuscript editor, and was invited to speak at TEDxPerugia. I feel that without the connections I made at the Umbra Institute, an element of Study Abroad often overlooked, my academic, professional, and personal life would likely not be as promising as they have become.

It is easy to reduce the size of the world when you only see your future in your home country. We fail to consider how many opportunities and experiences are out there, found only when we embrace that they could be ours and forget that the world is only as large as norms suggest.

Dalton Provost, a graduate student at George Washington University, studies Industrial Psychology and engages in research on a variety of topics, including team dynamics, character traits, and personality. In addition to this academic work, he is a freelance editor and reviewer for Melioravit, a Perugia-based company helping international scientists get funded, published, and discovered. He attended the Umbra Institute in the Fall of 2015, coming to us from Santa Clara University. 

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