Why did you choose this program? I chose the Rome IES program because of the way it was so focused on getting American students immersed in the Italian culture. They had the option of living with an Italian Student Companion (ISC), joining an Italian and American co-ed soccer team, partaking in Italian cooking classes, living with home stays, taking mandatory Italian classes, and our classes included field studies around Rome, as well as field trips to other areas of Italy! For example, I took classes that were two days a week, one being in class and the other being a "field study," meaning we would go out in Rome and learn about the material we were taught that earlier day in the week. Learning about the Colosseum was much more fun being there in person than just reading it in a textbook! Rome is such an exciting city that I truly never got bored, it should definitely be a city you should consider studying abroad in!
Describe your favorite class(es) abroad. My favorite classes abroad had to be my Italian class and my Contemporary Issues in the Roman Catholic Church course. I loved my Italian class because it was a bit smaller than most of the other classes and our entire class got really close. Our teacher was younger and was very welcoming and did not make us feel insecure about messing up when we tried to speak Italian. She gave us the confidence to go out into Rome and try speaking Italian instead of just resorting to English. I also loved my Contemporary Issues in the Roman Catholic Church course because it was a debate course about a lot of controversial topics that the Catholic Church is dealing with in today's society. And what better place to debate all these topics when we were less than a 10 minute walk from Vatican City?
What was the housing like on your study abroad program? I absolutely loved the housing with IES Rome and I think it is what made my experience so amazing. You had the choice to live with a home stay or with an Italian Student Companion (ISC) in Italian apartments throughout the city. I chose to live with an ISC and it was so worthwhile! She is one of my best friends and we still keep in touch to this day. She helped me and the rest of my roommates out so much throughout the semester and took us to non-touristy restaurants and sights. She is actually coming to live in America this year to teach Italian at another university and so now our roles have switched and I am helping her adjust, just like how she helped me when I studied abroad!
What advice would you like to give to future study abroad students? Know that you'll mess up, know that you'll be ok, and know that you're having the greatest time of your life.
What’s your best memory from your time abroad? My best memory had to be when my friends and I took a late night walk to the Trevi Fountain and I was asked to take a video of a boyfriend proposing to his girlfriend! Nothing can beat that!
What was your biggest surprise about the location, culture or other aspects of your program? My biggest surprise about Rome is how it is a huge city that is still dealing with keeping it's historical monuments alive, while also trying to become a more modern city like many other large European cities. It was an interesting dynamic to live in and it is something that makes Rome so beautiful and unique.
Describe your experience with culture shock or reverse culture shock. Coming back to the United States was a bit harder than I thought because Rome is not an Americanized city. Yes, in the big touristy areas they can cater to American tourists, but overall Italians speak Italian and they don't want to speak English to you. It makes you learn Italian really quickly and it made it weird for me to come back and have everyone speaking in English again.
“If I could do it over, I would…” tell myself to stop second guessing myself and worrying. I worried so much in my first month studying abroad and it made me stress over things that I really shouldn't be stressing about. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity, just go with the flow and enjoy every moment of it because it goes way too fast.
What do you know now that you didn’t know before you went abroad? I now know what I am capable of doing, academically, professionally, and socially. I have become an overall more confident and outgoing woman who knows that she can do anything she sets her mind to. Studying abroad gives you the courage to do things that you never thought you could achieve.
What do you wish someone had told you before you left? I wish someone would have told me how crazy Roman drivers are.
What was your greatest challenge? My greatest challenge abroad was stepping out of my comfort zone and learning that I was going to mess up speaking Italian. Was it embarrassing? Yes, but I learned to overcome that fear of embarrassment and knowing that it really doesn't matter in the long run. What matters is how much you learn while you're there and it was truly amazing to realize how proficient I had become in Italian after my semester abroad.
Discuss: “Going abroad vs. staying on campus.” Going abroad was a hard decision for me to make because I am extremely settled in my organizations here on campus. Taking a semester off terrified! But the great thing about studying abroad is that this is a once in a lifetime opportunity! Who knows when you'll have the next time to actually live in a foreign country? You can always come back to campus, but living in another country for another semester will open your eyes to new people, places, and ideas that you had never thought about here at at IU.
What fact about your host country do you think people would be surprised to learn? Italy is a country that does not have a stable economy or government right now, which is something that surprised me. Not a lot of people from America know much about Italy so living here made me learn more about the current situation in Italy.
How did you find scholarships for study abroad? I looked through Education Abroad and through other organizations I was in on campus.
Would you recommend other students pursue any specific scholarship opportunities? I would definitely recommend students to check out the scholarships through Education Abroad!