Colgate has pushed me past my comfort zone more times than I can count. As an incoming college student, I had never conversed in a language other than English. Determined to change that, I entered into a six-month-long language intensive program in Germany, studying Economics and German Culture. In the months leading up to my departure, discomfort overwhelmed me.

On my first day of class in Germany, I learned that I was the only non-native speaker in the 11-person class. I felt ashamed when the professor called on me and I could not articulate what I wanted to describe. My brain felt blank; both my German and English failed me. After class, I wanted to shrink into the shadows and manage my way home. However, taking a breath, I went to introduce myself to my professor.

My professor grinned in a supportive manner as I struggled through my first sentences in German. She sat down with me, eyes wide with interest, and listened to me tell my story as well as I could. After that initial meeting, my professor be- came my mentor. She set aside weekly time that she affectionately referred to as “Gaby Time,” where she would go through the lectures a second time, allowing the German a chance to absorb. Her generosity and patience astounded me—finding someone who believed in me and supported my desire to learn gave me more confidence than I could imagine.

As a senior looking back on my Colgate experience, I recognize that going abroad offered me a better understanding of growth as a flexible and personal process, proving to me the importance of challenging myself and becoming more mindful and accepting of the differing experiences of those around me. While I understand going abroad is not feasible for everyone, I wholeheartedly recommend that students, both on campus and off, embrace difficult and stimulating experiences in whatever form they might look like for you.

By Gaby Bianchi, Multimedia Manager

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