Why did you choose this program? I chose to study abroad with CAPA because  their values aligned with my goals for study abroad. I was able to get direct credit for all of the classes I took at CAPA. They offer a wide range of classes that appeal to students of all academic backgrounds and interests. CAPA is incredibly affordable. They offer many activities and events that allowed us to interact with locals. CAPA presented me with an amazing volunteer opportunity to teach English to fourth-grade Italian students. It was one of my favorite experiences abroad and I could not have done it without my help. CAPA was a perfect fit for me and allowed me to accomplish my study abroad goals.

Describe your favorite class abroad. My favorite class abroad was Photojournalism. We spent the majority of our class time exploring the city and taking photographs, I was able to attend two incredible photography exhibits with my class. Our professor took us to parts of Florence that I had never heard of or been to. We went to Cascine Park, which reminded me a lot of parks in urban areas in the United States. We also visited a former and now abandoned mental hospital. I enjoyed my Photojournalism class as it allowed me to explore Florence and learn more about Florence's history.

What was the housing like on your study abroad program? I lived in a large three-bedroom apartment with five other girls in the CAPA program. We lived in the Santa Croce Neighborhood. We had a great apartment and location. Our apartment was a five minute walk to the CAPA Center. Our apartment was in close proximity to an outdoor market, great shops, and many restaurants and bars. I love the Santa Croce neighborhood as it is incredibly busy and lively.

What advice would you like to give to future study abroad students? Set goals for yourself so you get the most out of your study abroad experience. Be flexible- there are many uncertainties when traveling, so be flexible and do not let one bump in the road dampen your mood. Try to speak Italian as much as possible. Travel alone. I wanted to go to Switzerland to go snowboarding and paragliding and none of my friends were able to come on the trip, so I went by myself. I had an amazing time and made some life-long friends. Do not be afraid to travel to places off the beaten path. I spent a weekend in Istanbul with three friends and it was my favorite trip while abroad. Take advantage of every opportunity that comes your way as studying abroad is an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

What’s your best memory from your time abroad? My best memory from my time abroad is when my friends and I went on a night Bosphorus River cruise in Istanbul. The river boat cruise included a delicious dinner and incredible entertainment. There were dancers, belly dancers, and magicians. We sat a table with fellow Americans and had great conversations with them. We were able to experience Turkish culture and enjoyed amazing views of Istanbul on our river boat cruise.

Describe your experience with culture shock or reverse culture shock. I was shocked at how small the grocery stores are in Italy. There is only a small part of the store devoted to frozen foods, unlike grocery stores in the United States. I was not used to making frequent trips to the grocery store where I only purchase a few items. But, I ended up liking the way Italians grocery shop.

“If I could do it over, I would…” I would not be afraid to travel alone. I really wanted to go to Prague, but none of my friends wanted to go there, so I decided not to go. I wanted to go to Interlaken, Switzerland, but none of my friends were able to go, so I decided to go by myself. At first, I was nervous about going on a trip by myself; but, it was one of the best decisions I made. I spent an incredible weekend snowboarding in the Swiss Alps, paragliding, and chocolate tasting. I made some great friends on the trip, whom I later traveled with.

What do you wish someone had told you before you left? I wish someone had told me to study more Italian before I left, particularly useful phrases for everyday interactions. My language skills limited my ability to communicate with Italians. I wish I would have done a language exchange program, where I would teach an Italian English and he/she would teach me Italian.

What was your greatest challenge? My greatest challenge was speaking Italian with locals. When I got nervous speaking Italian, I would switch to English, which made it very difficult for me to improve my Italian. Try to speak Italian as much as possible and push through the anxiety of speaking Italian with locals.

Discuss: “Going abroad vs. staying on campus.” I knew I would miss my friends and family when I decided to go abroad. But, I knew I could not pass up this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity in favor of comfort and familiarity. Many of my friends said they would not want to study abroad because they did not want to miss out on the Little 500. The Little 500 happens every year and while I wished I could have been there with my friends, I spent that weekend in the Amalfi Coast.During my weekend in the Amalfi Coast, I visited the ancient city of Pompeii, swam in the Mediterrean Sea, and went inside the Blue Grotto, one of the natural wonders of the world. The Little 500 happens every year but it is not every day I can spend a weekend in the beautiful Amalfi Coast.