Why did you choose this program?I've wanted to go to Italy for a while because there is so much culture and history there. When I decided to do a study abroad program in the summer, I had to decide between Photography in Japan or Watercolor/Drawing/Renaissance Art History in Italy. I'm not as into watercolor/drawing as I am for photography, but Italy had so many major draws for me that I chose it over Japan.

Describe your favorite class abroad. Renaissance Art History was my favorite class. I usually am not a fan of history, but this was really interesting. We went to museums and churches nearly every day for class and there were paintings and sculptures by many really famous artists (Michelangelo, da Vinci, Donatello, etc.) as well as thousands more amazing pieces of art by less well known people.

What was the housing like on your study abroad program?We stayed in a pensione which in this case was a family run hotel on the top floor of a building with another hotel in it. We nearly filled the place, so there was nobody else there. We got breakfast and dinner every weekday, and it was within a block of the city center and the most famous building in Florence, the Duomo.

What advice would you like to give to future study abroad students? Go exploring in the city.  Know a bit of the language so you can get directions.  Know information about the area before you go there, such as what the best restaurants/shops/museums are.  Finish homework before going out for the night   Be safe/aware of surroundings, particularly at night.  Don't go out at night without multiple other people.

What’s your best memory from your time abroad? I am a person who is in touch with my spiritual side and I found two amazing churches that had such great spirit that I connected to and was able to easily meditate in (they were open most of the time)

What was your biggest surprise about the location, culture or other aspects of your program? I didn't expect all of the main locations to be within close walking distance.  So many people smoke in Italy.

Describe your experience with culture shock or reverse culture shock. I'm a decently traveled person, so there wasn't a lot of culture shock, but two things that were different were the large amount of vendors who would call out to people and try to convince you to buy their stuff, and also there was amazing food on every street corner - even chain stores had good/'homemade' food.

“If I could do it over, I would…” I would not buy as many souvenirs - if I saw something that I liked, I would usually get it, but I was there for 6 weeks and so I now have more than I really need.

What do you know now that you didn’t know before you went abroad? I thought that people would constantly be trying to pickpocket me, but that didn't happen a single time. Maybe I looked Italian enough that they thought I was a local (before I unleashed my American accent).

What do you wish someone had told you before you left? Practice bargaining or you will get taken advantage of (if you have never tried, how do you know if you will be good at it?)

What was your greatest challenge? Having to finish homework while there was so much left to explore around the city that was much more interesting.

Discuss: “Going abroad vs. staying on campus.” There is so much more diversity and culture studying abroad. The only thing that stops me from doing it all the time is money. You will have such amazing experiences traveling abroad that you have never even dreamed of.

What fact about your host country do you think people would be surprised to learn? Catholicism is a lot more relaxed in Italy. In the states, it is competing with other religions for supremacy, etc. and so has stricter rules, but in Italy where most people who are religious are Catholic, the religion can be more chill about accepting people and what people do that is or is not sinful.

How did you find scholarships for study abroad? Hutton International Experiences Program can be applied for by anyone at IU, even if they are not in the Hutton Honors College.

Would you recommend other students pursue any specific scholarship opportunities? See above question - they can be generous with their scholarships (up to ~$1500 for summer programs, up to ~$3000 for semester/full year).