As cliche as it may sound, studying abroad really does open your eyes in ways I never thought were possible. My family heritage is Italian, and the Maryland-in-Rome program gave me a great opportunity to live in the country that my ancestors came from so many years ago. On top of that, I had such a wide variety of classes to choose from, and they all transfer back to UMD so easily. My parents have always stressed the importance of traveling to different places around the world, seeing and experiencing different cultures, and learning something everywhere you go.
Advice for future #TerpsAbroad: My advice to someone who is planning to go abroad is to start thinking about it early. The earlier you start planning, the easier it will be to plan and the more options you will have. Talk to your advisors and the Education Abroad office; they have so many resources and will help you find the best fit for you. Also, it's totally fine to not know anyone in your program going into it, and it's okay to not be traveling with any of your friends from College Park. I promise you, you will make friends so easily while abroad, whether they're from College Park, another school in the USA, or even around the world.
Studying abroad is hands down the best decision I have ever made during my time here at UMD. The sheer number of options available to students makes it so easy to find the best fit for you, whether it be a semester term or even a shorter trip in the winter or summer; there literally is something for everyone! You will meet so many amazing people both from UMD and from a ton of other schools all across the country, and even the world. My only regret was stressing so much over whether or not I even wanted to go away for a whole semester, but if I could go back in time, I would tell my previous self to just dive right into it and go for it; there really is no better time in your life to live abroad than your college years.