Why did you choose this program? I had always wanted to go to Italy, but before this program I had only taken a semester of Italian. This program was perfect because one could go regardless of their level of expertise of the language.
Describe your favorite classes abroad. Italian II and Renaissance Italy. Italian was great because it was just me and one other student, so we both received a lot of attention from our professor to get a really good understanding of the language. Renaissance Italy was fantastic because as a class we would go to churches, museums, etc. every class, so our classroom was actually the city of Florence itself! Plus nothing beats getting to see Michelangelo's David for class credit!
What was housing like on your study abroad program? We lived in a small hotel that was rented out completely to IU students in the program. It was just one building away from Il Duomo, the cathedral of Florence, so we would wake up everyday to the sound of the bells, followed by homemade cappuccinos. We also had a great terrace on the roof that gave us a truly fantastic view of the city.
What advice would you like to give to future study abroad students? When it comes down to it, experiences are the best souvenirs. I remember trying to decide between going cliff jumping in the Amalfi Coast or buying a genuine leather purse from Florence-and I'm so glad I chose the former.
What's your best memory from your time abroad? It's hard to say what my best memory is just because the whole experience was incredible, but one of my favorite things was going horseback riding through Tuscany and then doing a wine tasting after. It was a perfect day with perfect company!
What was your biggest surprise? In Italy you have to pay to use most of the public bathrooms. You also have to pay for water at restaurants. That's the one thing I really don't miss about it!
"If I could do it over, I would..." If I could do it over, I wouldn't change a single thing.
What was your greatest challenge? Sometimes navigating the streets of Florence was difficult because there are so many tiny streets that kind of all look alike. But as long as I could see the Duomo, I knew I would be able to get home.
Discuss: "Going abroad vs. staying on campus." While staying on campus is cheaper and definitely has its advantages, there's nothing like going abroad. As much as IU can teach you, there are so many things about the world and about yourself that you learn when you're abroad that you just can't get from a textbook. Stepping out of your comfort zone can be one of the most rewarding experiences.
What specific scholarship opportunities would you recommend to other students? I applied to the Hutton Honors International Experiences Grant, and even though they mention that it's mainly for long trips to less-traveled countries, I still received enough money that it definitely helped. If you meet the academic requirements, I highly recommend!