• Lauren Gewirtz

Paris and Rome 2018: The finale

Where do I even begin? I cannot believe how fast a month went by and even more so, how much my life changed in such a short period of time. I just had absolutely no idea what I was in for and also was pretty far off about all of my expectations. That is probably why I had the best time.

I want to start by saying that if any of my peers that experienced this study abroad trip with me are reading this, thank you. You all are special to me and I am so grateful that I was able to spend a month with each of you. I know that many of the relationships I made on this trip are going to last for a long time.

When I first decided to go on this trip, I was not in a great place. In the few months before I got on the flight to Paris, I began to find myself and in turn, found a light in my life and a new belief in my life. I am here for a reason.

So, when that Delta Airbus A330-200 landed in Paris, I was ready to experience everything life had to throw at me in a month: A new culture, new people and a new place very far outside of my comfort zone.

With all honesty I can say that I embraced this trip fully and tried to take advantage of every new opportunity thrown at me. Within what felt like a very short month, I grew into a person that I never thought I would be. I am separating that growth into four categories:


I consider myself a very introverted person. Too much time with people can be very overwhelming for me -- something I was nervous about when thinking about going on this trip. Some people find this hard to believe, but I actually like doing things by myself. I like sitting and thinking by myself and taking in moments. Trying to do that while being constantly surrounded by people was worrisome, but turns out, it was probably the thing I needed most.

Through essentially being forced to do everything with at least one other person (mandatory buddy-system), I realized how much I enjoy genuine time with new people and learning things about others. This was something far out of my comfort zone, but I could not be happier with the outcome: relationships that I only hope will last a lifetime.


I am a religious person; it’s kind of what happens when you attend Catholic schools for 13 years. However, I found a spirituality past religious barriers on this trip. For me, I would say it was more of a faith based growth. Spending time and speaking with people from all different backgrounds and walks of life made me realize just how connected we all are.

I also found a peace with and within myself that I had never experienced before, which I consider to be spiritual. I felt a new understanding and appreciation toward people that live differently than I do and hold beliefs that don’t necessarily align with mine. The best way to describe it is a new love for the life around me.


As mentioned, I have struggled with depression and anxiety. Although I consider myself a happy person now that does not mean those things are gone. There is no cure for them.

On this trip, however, I felt like I reached the top of my mountain.

Just six short months ago, I was in the worst place I have ever been. Now I am seeing the light. I have more control over my life than I ever have before. I am happy with myself and who I am as a person. I realized on this trip the final piece of my happiness that I was lacking -- the realization that I am not a burden to people. I like me for me and so do other people. This realization that seriously seems way to simple as I type it out gave way to a feeling of introspective freedom that I have never felt before.


My educational growth was based on the minimal crisis I had not to long before I left home which involved me stressing about what I want to do with my life. Many of the guest speakers we had made me realize that it’s OK to not know exactly what I want to do with my career. I am only halfway through college and still have so much time to figure out my life. I will be 20 in less than a month. I have time.

I also learned that I am doing at least one part of this whole education thing right. Exploring different skills is extremely valuable in journalism nowadays, something that I am trying to constantly do. You can never have too many skills.

I am grateful that I have taken leaps of faith in my two years at Michigan State to get out of my comfort zone educationally and explore different areas within journalism like design, code and video. Even if I am not the best at some of those things, small skills can help when employers are looking at you. You have to constantly be working to make yourself invaluable and can never learn too much. There’s always something new.

Although I am aware of how fast life can change for good or bad, I never really took into consideration how much my personal being could change in a month.

Life has a way of giving you exactly what you need when you need it; this trip was what I needed more than anything and I will always remember it as a time that changed my life for the better with people I will never forget.




(aka Miz Lawn #IYKYK)

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