The seeds of travel were sown very early on in Giorgia Ruffini’s life. Born to parents of Italian and Spanish heritage, she grew up in Italy but has traveled extensively. Now she’s been able to visit a new country with IE University’s international exchange program, which allows students to spend a semester abroad at one of the university’s 200 partner institutions around the world. In a recent interview, Giorgia gave us the real scoop on her experiences and the valuable lessons she learned during her exchange semester abroad.

What are you enjoying about the Bachelor in Behavior & Social Sciences?

From a young age, I’ve been fascinated by human behavior, psychology and the underlying reasons for our actions. As a strong believer in the power of our mindset as a key determinant of our lives, I chose the Bachelor in Behavior & Social Sciences to learn more about our psychological processes. The program is preparing me for a career aligned with my potential and my passions so that I can make a positive impact.

I also love the diversity at IE University. IE University has given me my best friends, who all come from different countries and have taught me so much about their cultures, traditions and histories. 

Why did you pick Singapore for your exchange semester abroad?

I chose Asia for my exchange because it’s a part of the world I hadn’t explored much before. I had only been to Malaysia the year prior, but that’s it. Singapore offered everything I was looking for—a vibrant, safe, modern city in a prime location in Southeast Asia, and a melting pot of religions and cultures. Further, the Singapore Management University is an amazing institution.

How did you adapt to such a different culture and diverse environment?

One aspect that took me by surprise was the lack of physical contact. In Italy or Spain, it’s common to hug or give two air “kisses” when meeting new people or friends, but that wasn’t part of the culture there. I found myself in a few really awkward half-hug situations!

However, even though adapting to such a different culture and environment was initially challenging, the transition was not difficult. The city’s culture is remarkably beautiful and characterized by efficiency and diversity. The respectful and helpful nature of everyone I met made my experience incredibly enjoyable.

Can you share some of your biggest takeaways from your exchange experience?

My main takeaway is that personal growth comes from immersing oneself in experiences that may at first appear intimidating. My exchange journey showed me how both positive and negative experiences shape us, depending on our response to them. There’s immense value in these formative years of our youth that come from learning, meeting new people and allowing the diversity of the world to enrich our stories, our lives and our independent thinking. 

This journey also showed me that a lot of the parts of our character and personality traits that we think are fixed can actually change more easily than we think. By confronting and reevaluating our self-imposed limitations, we can unlock our potential for personal growth. I think this is a really important aspect of human behavior, especially during our youth. 

Any advice for future Bachelor in Behavior & Social Sciences students?

Engage fully in the experience beyond lectures. Distinguish and enrich yourself by participating in exchanges, consulting projects, clubs, speaker events and labs. 

Also, keep simple notes for future reference, as everything you learn will be invaluable. You’ll find that your studies not only help your personal development but also uncover new interests—for me, it was anthropology. So embrace the wide variety of courses in the Bachelor in Behavior & Social Sciences to broaden your knowledge, not just for your career but also for your personal cultural toolkit. 

Above all, enjoy the journey. Some classes may be tough and others exceptionally challenging, but you’ll graduate with a wealth of knowledge and a much more open-minded approach to critically assess the world and your own life.