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!
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!