My Study Abroad Experience

Hey everyone! Today I am FINALLY going to be giving a review and summary of my study abroad experience this summer! It only took like…… six months! But I know a lot of people who are considering studying abroad next year or over summer so I figured it was as good of a time as any!

What program did I go through? Did I go with my school? Did I have friends with me? 

I think I am unique in the sense that I went through an independent program with no one through my school, completely by myself! I wanted to really experience life in Italy to the fullest and I didn’t want to be in a group of people from my school.

I went with a program called ISA and they were amazing! They were super detailed about everything, had course descriptions online, gave us itineraries for each weekend, and made sure we could register through my host university, The American University of Rome. 

My school’s study abroad office was super helpful with finding a program and working with me on dates and making sure my credits would transfer, but other than that I did it myself!

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How long was I there?

I was in Italy for 5 weeks over what colleges consider the “Summer One” session of summer classes (May-June)! I honestly don’t think I could have done a whole semester. I am very introverted and deal with anxiety, plus I wouldn’t have wanted to miss out on my sorority and relationship. I still had time to travel, explore, immerse in the culture, and then I was ready to be home!

Did I like my host city?

Honestly, I had a love-hate relationship with Rome. Rome is a huge city and I have never had to deal with that before. The public transportation was very unreliable most of the time and all of the main, beautiful attractions were packed with tourists 24/7 so it was hard to get good looks at things like the inside of the Colosseum. However, I have always been super interested in Roman history. I fell in love with Campo di Fiori, got to visit so many amazing sites with my classes that many tourists won’t ever see, and have so many funny memories of trying to catch the bus and watching out for pickpockets. So I loved it, but I think maybe if I had only been there for a week I wouldn’t have been so overwhelmed.

What did it cost?

My program itself cost roughly $6,000, plus airfare, spending money, travel insurance, and all that other fun stuff. Studying abroad definitely isn’t cheap, but a normal person would spend that much to go for two weeks and not see nearly as much as I got to. Studying abroad truly is the only way to get a “bargain” on seeing a part of the world. I am so grateful to my family for supporting me in my dream to go overseas and my large tax return which helped me save up a little bit, but it definitely is a huge financial decision to make with your family.

Where did I go? 

ALL OVER!!! Literally, my favorite part of being away was getting to go on a new adventure practically every day. The majority of my classes were on-site, meaning my professors took us to a different church, monument or historical site pretty much every day. Usually, we’d hit three or four places in a class! The program planned two weekend getaways to the Florence region and then the Naples region which were absolutely incredible. Our first weekend was a free weekend and I used that to unpack and explore a local beach with some friends, and my last weekend (also a free weekend) I decided to adventure north to Berlin, Germany. That was truly the most independent and fun weekend of my life. And I got to use some of my German language!

Did I make friends? 

Everyone seems to be worried about not making friends or being alone the whole time but that is not the case at all! Two of my roommates went to a university in my home state, Arizona, I made a close friend Lizzie who goes to UGA (who also was in both of my classes!) and Taylor who goes to USC which is only a couple hours from me! I always had someone to hang out with over the weekend trips and during the week. On my trip to Berlin, I had the absolute privilege to meet another Delta Gamma from Texas, which was the highlight of that trip. I had no idea how strong my sisterhood is and how much of a bond it really is until I met Ashley and had an instant best friend simply because of DG!

Do I recommend studying abroad?

YES!! It is the experience of a lifetime and there is never another time in your life where you will get to travel for so (comparatively) cheap and experience life to the fullest in another country. It totally sparked my passion for learning, absolutely changed me in terms of my relationship with God and my outlook on life, and gave me lifelong friends, memories I will cherish, and not to mention a bomb Instagram feed! There were ups, and downs – sprained ankles, crazy professors, delayed flights – but it was all part of the process and learning how to travel!

Sorry that this was so long, but I hope it helped someone figure out whether or not to study abroad! Thank you for reading, I have so many fun ideas for the holidays and new year!

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How to be Successful in an Interview!

Hey everyone!

Today I wanted to write about something a lot of college students don’t really have experience with, especially freshman or sophomore year: interviews!! Interviews are a vital part of securing a job, whether it be a sales associate at a boutique or an internship, and being prepared is the most important part! After successfully securing internships for both Fall and Spring semesters of this school year, I thought I’d share some tips about what to do and what I’ve noticed!

Before the Interview: 

  1. Before you even think about applying somewhere you need to work on your personal brand, especially if it’s for an internship. Start with removing any and all inappropriate pictures from social media. A good rule of thumb is if your grandma wouldn’t approve, neither will an employer. Make sure all of your profile pictures are appropriate and good quality, and even set up and LinkedIn profile if you want to! This will make you stand out amongst other college students.
  2. Make sure your resume is up-to-date and looks professional. Usually applying involves uploading it onto your application or emailing it to a recruiter, so you want to make sure it speaks to what you’re doing right now and how awesome you are!
  3. After you apply, keep track of your emails! If you used one email for all of your applications check it frequently to see whether anything has come in!

During the Interview: 

  1. Wear something professional! This will vary depending on what kind of job or internship you’re applying for, but if it’s in a professional field you will want to wear a nice outfit. Slacks or a modest pencil skirt and a nice conservative blouse usually is a safe outfit for most interviews, and nice close-toed shoes! If you’re really unsure, don’t hesitate to ask them! They will appreciate that you want to put your best foot forward!
  2. Be prepared to talk about yourself! What you’re doing in school, what your goals are, and why you are interested in that position. Have answers to cliche questions such as “talk about a difficult situation and how you handled it” or “what is your dream job?” Usually, those are to see whether your personality fits in with the culture of that company!
  3. Keep good eye contact, remain enthusiastic, sound confident in yourself! Have a handful of questions you can ask at the end of the interview. My go-to’s are typically “what is your favorite part of working here?”, “What can an *insert position here* gain from working here?”, “What are the expectations for this position?”. It makes you sound interested in what they have to say and in the job itself. Not having questions can actually translate into not caring even if it’s your dream job so make sure you have a couple just in case they ask!

Afterwards: 

  1. Follow up! Email whoever interviewed you or your point of contact for that job and thank them for their time and for the opportunity! Remind them that you are enthusiastic about the position and that you are excited to hear from them. This will go a long way when they are making their decisions!

 

What to Expect as a New Member of a Sorority

Colleges all over the country are either currently going through formal sorority recruitment or have just finished that long and exhausting week! Joining a sorority is one of the most amazing decisions you can make while in college but it can also be extremely overwhelming! There’s a lot going on those first few weeks of college, especially when you add a sorority to the mix! Here are some things to expect, hopefully, this makes the newness of your new sisterhood less scary!

  1. LOTS of new Instagram followers and Facebook friends! It seems like minutes after getting your bid your social media explodes with everyone in your chapter following and friending you! It overwhelmed me at first because I didn’t know anyone but it’s actually really nice when everyone likes everything you post!
  2. People will be inviting you to hang out with them left and right! The older members of the sorority are super excited to be welcoming new girls into their sisterhood and they want you to feel welcome! However, don’t feel obligated to say yes to everything. They know you have a life and school work to do, but still, try to meet some new people! Usually, the older sisters will drive you to places and pay for you so it doesn’t hurt to go do something fun and make a new friend!
  3. There will be a lot of information given to you at once. Joining a sorority is super fun but it also comes with rules and financial obligations, as well as dates to remember such as philanthropy events and social events! Try to absorb as much as you can because everything they will tell you is super important but don’t freak out if you forget something! Everyone will be very helpful reminding you of when things are and how that chapter works! They want you to feel comfortable and they remember how overwhelming being a new member is!
  4. Weekly chapter meetings! Most sororities will hold weekly meetings and if not then they will most likely be bi-weekly. They are held at the same place and time every week, so it’s super easy to remember! I know it can seem frustrating to have to go to a meeting every week, but they are really important! The meetings are to go over everything happening both in your chapter and in Greek life that week and if you miss chapter there’s most likely a bunch of important dates and information that you will miss out on. It’s also really fun (in my opinion) to go and see everyone in your sorority! It helps you learn everyone’s name and make friends by sitting next to people. I typically go grab food with a sister before chapter and it’s really fun to hang out with everyone!
  5. You will at some point in the first month or two get a BIG!!! Getting a big is literally the best feeling in the world. Your big is supposed to be a best friend and mentor rolled into a perfect package. They will help you get adjusted to sorority life and college life in general! Through your big, you will always have someone to answer your questions, be a study buddy, have someone to hang out with, and someone to go to if you’re feeling sad. They also shower you with gifts for about a week before the reveal! Bring on the free t-shirts and adorable hand-painted canvases!!

I hope this made you feel less intimidated by joining a sisterhood of a bunch of girls who are older and more experienced than you when it comes to this stuff, but it’ll eventually feel so natural and like home to you that you couldn’t imagine your life without it! Congrats on finding your home away from home!!

Tips for Having a Successful Semester

As we all (unfortunately) have realized by now, school is in full swing for most of us college or high school students by now. Apparently being a junior means no more syllabus week because my professors started lecturing and assigning things on the first day! But do not fear, you can start off the year on a good foot and drastically reduce stress in the months to come! Here are some tips about having a successful semester!

  1. Put all the dates listed on the syllabus either in a planner or in your phone! I know it can seem overwhelming, but trust me knowing exactly what’s due for the next couple of weeks or when exams are will make it so much easier to study and get stuff done ahead of time!
  2. Introduce yourself to your professor or at least ask a question about the class while they go over the syllabus! This helps them learn your name and shows you care about your performance in the class so they will be more willing to help you if you need it later on!
  3. If you have anything due already within the next week and you can start working on it now, start working on it! This is probably the least busy week because they don’t really assign anything due until after the drop-add period so the earlier you get assignments done the more time you will have for fun stuff or relaxing!
  4. This is probably the most important one, but write goals down for the semester and then break them down into smaller goals that you can do every day to achieve the bigger goals! For example, I figured out what grades I need this semester to raise my GPA to a 3.5. In order to achieve that goal I need to study my vocab for my language class every day, do at least one homework assignment a day, start speeches for public speaking a week in advance, and start studying for quizzes/exams a week in advance instead of trying to cram. I typically get good grades but a 3.5 is what a lot of scholarships require so that is my big goal for fall!
  5. Relax. Realize that sometimes life happens and you forget that small homework assignment or you get sick and have to cram for an exam. Realize that tiny mistakes or a couple of bad grades won’t completely ruin your grade in the class. There have been times where I failed an assignment or didn’t get the grade I wanted on a test and I still haven’t gotten anything less than a B so far. If you’re really struggling though definitely communicate with the professor. They want you to succeed and if they see that you are trying really hard that might help your final grade in the end!

Hopefully, this was helpful to someone and this motivated you to do well this fall! There are only a few months left of 2017 and the majority of that time will be spent in class so let’s make the most of it!

What Studying in the Eternal City did for my Faith

As you can tell by the title, this is more of a personal post, but I figured this was the best place for this post to go. I can’t really describe what Rome is like to someone who hasn’t been there, especially after being there for five weeks. But something I can try to explain is the presence of God in that city. Whether you were practically born with a cross in your hand or you’re like me and have been questioning/not believing for the majority of your life, you really can feel it. Almost every other building is a church, and all of them have a vast history. Some of them have existed since the 4th century, from right after the persecutions of Christians ended in the Roman empire. Being in an art history class and a class focussed on the early history of Christianity took me to some of the most sacred places in Rome, many of which are not on your average sight seeing tours. Some of the most beautiful and historic churches have average facades and wouldn’t attract your typical tourist. I am a history nerd and a firm believer that unless you know the history of something you can never truly understand or believe in it, and that includes religion. So if anyone reading this who considers themselves Christian doesn’t know who Constantine is or about the early persecutions of Christians, I urge you to research it. If it can take someone wobbly in their faith like me and make them believe, imagine what it can do for someone who is already firm in their faith. This isn’t something I came to by myself, even though I was in Rome technically alone in the sense that no one I knew from home or school was there with me. I have to give credit to people who took the time to discuss faith with me and were the examples of truly beautiful and kind Christian people. So if Alex Hammersley or Lizzie Digiovanni are reading this, thank you. Alex, you took me to church for the first time since I was… oh gosh 13 probably. You are the sweetest person on this planet and you truly do devote yourself to helping others, and I know you’re going to do amazing things in this life. Lizzie, I don’t get attached to people quickly or make true friends quickly either. But your love of cheese and wine and your willingness to walk home with me every day and just talk about things really had an impact on me. Especially talking about struggling with your own faith. It really made me want to figure it out so I could be more like you. I am in no way perfect in my faith yet. I don’t go to church every week and the only bible I own is smaller than my iPhone. But I’m getting there. And Rome really helped me solidify all the questions about what I believed that I have been struggling with for years. So thank you Rome, and thank you Italy. Studying abroad had such a huge impact on my life, and even if it wasn’t sunshine and rainbows every day, it showed me that I can handle anything and that God truly does love me and have something amazing planned for me. So if you read that huge and somewhat sappy post, here are some pictures of the beautiful churches I saw during my trip to reward you. (And yes, that is Bernini’s Extasy of Theresa. I was two feet away from it and I almost cried)

Last Full Weekend Abroad: BERLIN!

I don’t even know how to describe how full my heart is after spending a weekend in Berlin. I have never felt so much love for a city and been so intrigued by its history. I’m so thankful to have gotten to explore the entire city, try currywurst and (AMAZING) German beer, walk along the Berlin Wall and learn about its history, see the University where Einstein taught and where the Nazis had one of their first book burnings, stand 10 meters above Hitler’s bunker, see the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, and see the Reichstag. It truly was one of the most incredible weekends of my life, and I wouldn’t want to walk over 50,000 steps in any other city.

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Sorrento, Capri, Vesuvius, and Pompeii! 

This weekend was absolutely amazing! I started off my journey down to Amalfi by hiking to the top of Mount Vesuvius! It was on this hike that I finally was truly grateful for all the hikes my grandparents took me on while I lived in Arizona. It is extremely hot and straight up steep slopes of almost two miles before reaching the top, but the view is absolutely incredible and it was a great workout! From Vesuvio, I made my way to the beautiful town of Sorrento, which sits on cliffs overlooking the sea! This is the heart of limoncello production, and it is full of great shops with really reasonable prices! Saturday I took a ferry to the island of Capri, where I spent the day relaxing on the beach, exploring the port area of the island, and having the BEST pizza I have ever had! On the way back to Rome, I took a tour of Pompei, which has been a dream of mine since childhood. It is amazing and haunting to see a city so beautifully preserved by such a horrific event. Italy is quickly capturing my heart, and toning my thighs with its hundreds of stairs!

Firenze Travel Diary

Hello, everyone! This past weekend I was in Florence, Italy, and it honestly was one of the best weekends of my entire life. I learned so much about really famous paintings and sculptures, got to see the Duomo, experienced haggling the leather markets, and climbed roughly 350 stairs to see the sunset from one of the highest points in the city! On top of amazing food, and creating my own Magnum ice cream bar! On Sunday I got the privilege of exploring a vineyard and learning a lot about the wine making process and got to have an AMAZING food and wine tasting! The balsamic was the best I’ve ever had, and the price tag definitely reflected that! I may take my international business major on over to Tuscany and work with one of my new favorite things: WINE!! Here are some highlights from a weekend I will always treasure!

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Sightseeing: Rome Edition!

Ciao! I have just completed my first week in Rome and I have had the chance to see a lot of beautiful and historical sites such and the Colosseum, the Roman Forum, and the Trevi Fountain! I still have 4 weeks here in this beautiful city, so I’m sure there will be more photos to come! For now, enjoy Rome through my eyes!

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What’s in my carry on: ROME edition!!

Today’s post is extremely exciting for me because tomorrow I leave for my month-long study abroad experience in Rome, Italy! Italy has been my dream destination since I was little, and I am so excited! I am going independently through the ISA program, and I plan on doing a post about my experience with them once I get home, as well as many posts while I’m abroad! But for now, here’s what’s coming on the plane with me!

  1. The bags: My (very well loved) Longchamp bag and my North Face backpack. I didn’t want to bother with another rolling suitcase, and everything fits perfectly between the two, with room to spare!

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2. The essentials: I figured I’d start with the boring stuff first! I have my prescriptions, Advil, tissues, all of my liquid makeup, plus my toothbrush, face wipes, deodorant, and perfume! fullsizeoutput_1253

3. More essentials!: I have my powder makeup and makeup brushes in a cute makeup bag from Toss Designs, two books (one from Kate Spade, one from Walgreens.. literally) for beach and plane reading, my hair brush, and an umbrella! fullsizeoutput_1252

4. Doesn’t everything in my carry on fall under the “essentials” category??: I have my wallet with ID cards, credit, and debit cards, plus cash. Then I have my passport (DUH) in an adorable case from Ban.do, two converters, my glasses, sunglasses, and my keychain from Moon and Lola so that I have a place for my apartment keys and the key to my safe!

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5. School stuff: I have two Kate Spade notebooks: the blue one is for note taking in class and the yellow one (which is very fitting for Italy) is for journaling and keeping photos and tickets from my trip, my planner (it’s the old Lilly agenda so they don’t have a link for it anymore), my pencil case, and my water bottle from S’well!

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6. Electronics: I have my Polaroid camera, a calculator for my online math class, a tripod for my phone, a phone charger, portable battery, two pairs of headphones, a little mini fan that you can plug into your iPhone, and my 13″ MacBook pro (stickers are from RedBubble)! Not pictured: the charger to my Mac, but I promise I won’t forget it!
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This is everything that I’m taking with me on the plane! Except for some things I have printed out, like the address of my apartment, ID cards for travel insurance, photocopy of my passport, etc. but who really cares about all of that stuff? I hope this helped you figure out what to pack in your carry on for a study abroad trip or long vacation! If anyone wants to see what I brought in my checked bag, let me know in the comments! Can’t wait for my next post in ROME!!!