Living and studying abroad can seem rather tough. Before going off to college, seniors often feel nervous, confused, and uncomfortable at the thought of starting a new, independent life. An endless amount of questions arise while thinking about this huge change in lifestyle. As we all know, “experience is the best teacher.” So, we decided to ask some of our graduates (who have gone through this experience) a few questions about living and studying abroad.
Q: What was your most memorable experience with studying abroad?
Giorgi Vachnadze: “Since I was studying in the city of Art, Architecture and History; which is Florence, Italy, my most memorable experiences were field trips and History lessons. We had field trips to Rome, Venice, Sienna, Perugia and Bologna, it was extremely overwhelming, every corner of every city had a piece of Art, History and Culture in it. The history lessons were my favorite, because we actually went and saw (And sometimes touched) the actual art-works or the buildings we studied.”
Nini Dvali: “My most memorable experience was adjusting to living alone. After living with your family for eighteen years, it is a big emotional challenge to end up on your own in another part of world.”
Q: Compared to high school, is it harder to manage your time?
Rati Mukhuradze: “Oh yes, yes it is! So much homework and so many distractions! First of all, you’re in a totally new environment which you want to explore. I mean, it’s good if you’re responsible but guys… HAVE FUN! Because abroad you’re just going to come across wild parties, and all you have to do is just… enjoy them. So well… time management there depends on how easily you get distracted.
Guri Sakvarelidze: “It is much harder to manage time because you have more responsibilities in everyday life. You are becoming an individual who is faced with the freedom of choice. And choosing “wrong” things is so easy to do.”
Q: Was it easy to socialize and make new friends?
Nini Dvali: “Yes, it was. There were so many first-years who feel as awkward as you do and the orientation week was really useful to make new friends.”
Rati Mukhuradze: “Well yeah … I mean it’s not like you walk in and everyone starts to adore you, but I wasn’t expecting that. The thing is, I really like being with people, and I was lucky to get to know new ones. I’m in a good relationship with everyone, though there are some exceptions.”
Q: How did you get accustomed to the new environment?
Guri Sakvarelidze: “Cultural shock! I made new friends, learned the diversity of the human mind and embraced it.”
Giorgi Vachnadze: “As for blending in, it was not particularly hard for me to get accustomed to the people because it was an international school, thus everyone was just as lost as I was. There were no separate groups of people who shared the same nationality or ethnicity. What I’m saying is that if it was an Italian Institution, I would have had much more trouble blending in. But since everyone was in the same exact position as I was, it sort of…went smoothly.”
Q: How did you enjoy your stay/how are you enjoying your stay?
Ana Lomtadze: “How am I enjoying my stay? Now that one year has gone by after my stay in the USA, it feels much better! First of all, I feel more comfortable in the USA in general, and secondly, I’ve come to like Wellesley. I enjoy the freedom and responsibility of living alone. And I’ve become really passionate about some of the very intriguing classes that I’ve had a chance to take at Wellesley and MIT (representations of violence in film and literature, a class about Hitchcock, women’s and gender studies, cultural anthropology) Generally, I’m content within the system of liberal education and more broadly, with living in the USA. [However, I do plan to come back at some point!]”
Irakli Mosashvili: “The quality of the phenomenon “stay” is decided by many factors, in which, what type of environment was around a person takes a cake. By my personal experience, the answer could be – fair. People around me were rich, careless white fold, thus, we can derive from it that mostly, and it was PARTY!!! Yes, I said it. It was awesome, I won’t go into details, but three-day-long, and nonstop party was the exact thing needed after a heavy week of perpetual notebooks and lectures and overexerting work.”
Q: What advice would you give to seniors in high school?
Dato Aronia: “My advice to seniors would be to work hard on their final papers because the research skills will be an important advantage in college.”
Q: What are the disadvantages of living and staying abroad?
Irakli Mosashvili: “Disadvantages eh? First of all, that would be the factor of not seeing everyone you hold dear whenever you want. The second worst thing would be, trying to socialize with insufferable people that you call your new peers. Third would be lack of luck, but probably only in my case.”
Q: How did studying and living abroad affect you as a person?
Dato Aronia: “Studying abroad taught me a lot in terms of human communication and most importantly, what it means to speak and interact with people in a different language than Georgian. I think I have changed profoundly for the past year. It has also taught me that it’s NOT okay to skip homework – unless it’s the first week of the semester.”
Ana Lomtadze: “I have thought a lot about this actually, but it’s so hard to realize how you are changing while living and studying abroad, because the change is so fast and so many different things are going on in and around your life that it’s difficult to trace your growth mentally. However, I can say this: I have changed in the way I see and perceive things and make choices. I have become more confident and grounded, and have come to appreciate authentic human relationships.”
We’d like to kindly thank the former GZAAT students for taking the time to answer our questions. We hope these answers are helpful and we wish the upcoming graduates the best of luck!
By Elene Kalmikova and Elene Beridze