Rachel admires the Bologna skyline atop the Palazzo Poggi in Bologna.
Overseas Study Program
Rachel’s majors: Communication & Culture and Italian
Term abroad: Spring 2009
Reason you chose this program: This program was the most language and culture intensive of the Italian programs. I thought it would be a good challenge, allowing me to gain the greatest Italian language proficiency. I also wanted to be able to live with Italians and experience the authentic Italian way of life.
Favorite classes: My favorite class was our Advanced Grammar class. My teacher made learning the material fun by weaving in grammar and vocabulary points while discussing current events.
Describe the housing situation: In the first two weeks, you are housed at the lovely Holiday Hotel while you search for your housing for the semester. You hit the streets and call local complexes to find an apartment in the city. The process seems daunting, but it is the best way to get to know the city and the diverse range of people living in Bologna. I ended up living a few blocks away from the main piazza with eight Italians- it was perfect for me!
Best Memory: I cannot pinpoint just one favorite memory. It was all so amazing. Some of the highlights would be my weekly dinners with a group of Italian friends. They cooked us amazing Calabrian dishes. Another highlight was going out at night with my friends, while continually meeting new and exciting people. I loved laying out in giardini on Sundays, taking trips to all parts of Italy, and feeling like a true resident of Bologna. Leaving at the end of the experience and knowing I would have friends for life was very rewarding. There are just too many memories to choose from, which is, in my opinion, a perfect problem to have!
Biggest Surprise: The biggest surprise was how easy the transition was for me. I came into the experience fearful of the initial obstacles, like finding an apartment and understanding my classes. Everything worked out perfectly and I was never scared, never homesick and loved living the Italian way of life.
Experience with culture shock or reverse culture shock: I did not experience culture shock. Though I could definitely tell things operated differently, I was not surprised or frustrated by things. I tried to keep a very open mind and go with the flow. I had been waiting a very long time for this experience and was determined to love, or at least appreciate, every aspect. Coming back to America was disappointing but not shocking or unexpected. The only change I had to deal with was the loss of daily contact with my Italian friends.
Complete this sentence: If I could do it over, I would...Spend more time with my roommates. I got to know them and we had fun together, but I could have stayed at home more often to hang out with them. We were all very different people, so we went to different locales, but I did try out their hangouts and had great, new experiences.
Going abroad versus staying on campus, discuss: If I had stayed on campus, I would have participated in my sorority events, celebrated my 21st with my American friends, and partied for Little 5. This study abroad is a unique opportunity that comes once in a lifetime and I would have never missed it for anything, including Bloomington campus life.
What you know now that you didn't know before going abroad: I know that I can be placed in an experience that is completely foreign to me and be able to adapt. I know my capabilities as an independent adult.