Global Adventures and Personal Growth: My Unforgettable Journey Studying Abroad

Study abroad in Rome student headshot

Maxie Hom, a senior at St. John’s University, shares her impactful journey studying abroad through the Global Passport program. She offers firsthand accounts of her global adventures, including personal development, cultural immersion, and the unique opportunities that studying abroad offers.

What inspired you to study abroad?

Before attending St. John’s University, I was uncertain whether studying abroad was the right choice. While I’ve always had a love for travel, it was my brother’s experience through the St. John’s Global Passport program that genuinely piqued my interest. Encouraged by his stories, I decided to participate in Global Passport to the University’s Rome, Italy, campus and embarked on a semester abroad in the Eternal City.

Image of Study Abroad Student sighteseeing in nature

Did you have any initial fears before your trip? If so, how did you overcome them? 

I was nervous to study abroad because I was worried about filling my downtime. However, in Rome, there were numerous activities and excursions. From enjoying traditional cultural dishes to a day trip to Bracciano, every day presented new opportunities for exploration and discovery. One aspect I particularly cherished was venturing into the smaller towns. 

These excursions provided a profoundly enriching experience, offering insights into local life and culture that transcended the typical tourist experience. It was a perspective I doubt I would have gained had I merely visited Rome for a week-long vacation.

How did studying abroad help you discover passions or interests you didn’t know you had?

Travel has always held a special place in my heart, but it wasn’t until recently that I discovered a newfound passion for adventure. One core memory that stands out is waking up early and simply wandering through local shops, soaking in the fantastic weather wherever I found myself. It was a moment of pure serenity, and it sparked within me a desire to explore the quaint charm of small towns and local shops in New York.

How has your travel experience contributed to your personal development?

Studying abroad exposed me to rich cultures, languages, and customs, which have significantly deepened my understanding and appreciation of global perspectives. I’ve always thrived on stepping out of my comfort zone, and studying abroad has provided ample opportunities. It allowed me to meet new people, adapt to unfamiliar environments, and develop a profound appreciation for everything I have. 

How does your study abroad experience influence your academic goals or aspirations? 

Studying abroad was a real game-changer for me. It made me see my passion for Speech-Language Pathology in a whole new light—one that’s global. While I once envisioned myself staying rooted in New York, my time abroad opened my eyes to how big the world is and how much potential there is to make a difference anywhere.

What was your biggest challenge while studying abroad, and how did you overcome it?

The language barrier proved to be the most significant challenge while studying abroad. Not speaking Italian made communication a bit daunting, but I was pleasantly surprised by the patience and understanding of the local people. While I initially felt self-conscious about potentially appearing rude, they reassured me that was never the case. Despite this hurdle, studying abroad provided priceless chances for personal growth and cultural enrichment. It taught me the importance of maintaining an open mind and embracing new experiences, regardless of the obstacles that may arise.

What is your favorite memory from your study abroad experience, and why?

One of my most cherished memories is our Thanksgiving break trip to Ireland with some of my close friends. Despite our meticulous planning, our adventure took unexpected turns. However, these deviations from our initial plan brought us closer together and taught me invaluable lessons. Foremost among them is the importance of embracing the unpredictability of life. The journey itself, with its twists and turns, sparks excitement and leads to unexpected outcomes.

How is the St. John’s Study Abroad Program unique?

Group picture of St Johns student studying abroad

A highlight of my study abroad experience was undoubtedly the “glocalize yourself” tour. Led by the knowledgeable Daniele, this initiative exposed us to the hidden gems of Rome and beyond. His meticulously planned day trips and authentic local meals I participated in have created memories I will treasure forever.

Compared to peers from other universities, it’s evident that St. John’s study abroad program stands high above the rest. The number of opportunities offered is genuinely unparalleled, reaffirming my gratitude for the unforgettable experiences it has provided.

What advice would you give to students considering studying abroad for the first time?

Go for it, 100 percent! While everyone’s experience is unique, delving into new corners of the world isn’t just about sightseeing—it’s a journey of self-discovery.

I did a lot of soul-searching during my time abroad, which reshaped my perspective on the world, new friendships, and myself. I can’t imagine where I’d be if I hadn’t taken the leap of faith. 

Start Your Global Journey: Study Abroad with St. John’s

Are you inspired by Maxie’s story? Take the first step toward your unforgettable adventure! Explore St. John’s Global Passport program options and find the perfect fit for you. 

St. John’s Abroad and Global Programs