Why did you choose this program? I chose BCSP because I wanted to immerse myself in Italian culture and language, and the program in Bologna places a lot of emphasis on immersion and independence.
Describe your favorite class(es) abroad. I had a couple really good class experiences while in Bologna. One of my favorite classes was my Spanish Literature class. I really enjoyed the course material, the professor, and the other students I met in the class. I also really enjoyed the requisite conversation/language class offered through my program. My professor was phenomenal and it was a really good way to gain confidence in Italian.
What was the housing like on your study abroad program? I lived in an apartment with three Italian housemates. I shared a room with one of them, and the other two were in singles. The apartment was about a thirty minute walk from the center of the city, but in a relatively good location (close to grocery stores, the train station, bus stops, etc.)
What advice would you like to give to future study abroad students? Remember that each study abroad experience is unique. Your experience will not be exactly like anyone else's, and it may not be exactly what you expect, but it is always great!
What’s your best memory from your time abroad? Toward the end of the semester, my program took us on a trip through some parts of Tuscany. We stopped in Sienna and a bunch of other mountain cities in Tuscany, and I loved seeing so much of the countryside. We stayed in an old monastery where we ate an amazing five-course meal of traditional Tuscan foods.
What was your biggest surprise about the location, culture or other aspects of your program? I can't say I have a stand-out moment of biggest surprise, but one of my favorite things about the experience was seeing and learning about little day-to-day cultural differences.
Describe your experience with culture shock or reverse culture shock. I definitely experienced some culture shock when I went to Italy, and some reverse culture shock when I got back to the United States. For me it was just a general feeling of anxiousness until I adjusted.
“If I could do it over, I would…” not let myself get overly stressed about classes abroad. They are a very important part of the experience, but living your life in another country is also an important part of the experience, and worrying to much about exams is not productive or enjoyable. The classes are hard, but doing well is completely possible.
What do you know now that you didn’t know before you went abroad? I feel like I learned a lot about my self and my resilience as a person. I am more confident in myself and am so glad to have had the opportunity to stretch myself by studying abroad.
What do you wish someone had told you before you left? I don't think people really talk about the hard parts of studying abroad enough. It is difficult, and stressful, and scary, which took me a little bit by surprise, but it could not be more worth it, because the the positives far outweigh the negatives.
What was your greatest challenge? I think for me the greatest challenge was figuring out how to be myself and be comfortable with myself in a place where I didn't have a shared cultural or linguistic basis with the vast majority of the people I came into contact with.
Discuss: “Going abroad vs. staying on campus.” I strongly encourage anyone who is able to to study abroad. I cannot stress enough what a great experience it is, personally and academically. You can learn so much by removing yourself from your norm, and have so much fun. The opportunity to study abroad is really a once-in-a-lifetime thing.
What fact about your host country do you think people would be surprised to learn? Italians never drink cappuccinos after noon! And if you ask an Italian why, they will probably shrug and say "because it's a morning drink." If you order a cappuccino in the afternoon, definitely expect to get strange looks.
How did you find scholarships for study abroad? All of my scholarships from IU worked while I was abroad, so I didn't really have to find a lot of extra scholarships.
Would you recommend other students pursue any specific scholarship opportunities? Definitely apply for the Hutton Honors College grants and study abroad scholarships. They are a great resource for financing your study abroad.