My name is Hannah Rowan and I attend the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. I am 19 years old and will be a sophomore this coming fall; therefore, I went abroad just after one year of college. I chose CIEE because of the study abroad fair during my fall semester of freshman year. The woman in charge of the booth was very knowledgeable about all CIEE offered as well as helpful but not to the point where she was overwhelming. The CIEE booth also had an Alumni student that explained her first hand experience with doing study abroad through CIEE which made an impression. I decided to do Summer in Rome for many reasons such as the course only being a month long, the location, the class offered, and many other reasons.
Before leaving for Italy I was super nervous; however, the nerves went away fairly quickly. I left for Italy knowing not a single person I would be abroad with as well as who I would be living with for a month. My classmates and I had found a few of the other students and we communicated a little before. That helped but it was still difficult to know a person through messaging. Once I arrived at the airport, I met up with other students along with CIEE employees. After arriving in Rome, I wasn’t as nervous because the other students were nice and we found out we all were anxious.
My experiences while abroad were amazing and untimely going abroad was the best decision for me at the time. Rome is unbelievable because it has some of the most extraordinary art and history. I had so many incredible experiences, I don’t even have a favorite. My class was art history; therefore, the class consisted of going to churches and museums around Rome. My class was a significant reason why I loved studying abroad because I got to do most of the tourist attractions for free since we did them during class. Also, my professor was one of the best teachers I have ever had because he was so knowledgeable about literally everything. A few of my favorite experiences while in Rome would be the time spent in our neighborhood (Prati), getting to explore the Vatican City, and going to the Colosseum. Our neighborhood was mostly locals; therefore, it was very Italian and not many spoke English well. I loved this because I got to get firsthand experience of how their day to day life was as well as practice my Italian daily. I gained many skills from going abroad such as improving my communication skills, problem solving, adaptability, as well as getting the opportunity for personal development.
When in Italy I traveled to a couple of places because of how inexpensive as well as easy it is. The first place I went to was a Santa Severa which was a beach town. This was a unique experience because it was the first time my friends and I independently used public transportation. Public transportation is very accessible in Rome; they have trains, metro, buses, and taxes. The second place I went to was Tivoli which is a small town about an hour from Rome. This trip was a field trip; however most of the day we had free time to explore. I also went to Florence with my class to visit the Uffizi but most of us stayed the weekend. That weekend I also went to Venice since I was much closer, and it was beautiful. Venice surprised me because some of my classmates had been before and said that you can explore the whole town in a day which was true.
About two weeks into my trip a group of my friends and I decided to go to Berlin, Germany! In Europe, they have an airline company called Ryanair. It only cost me $40 round-trip to go from Rome to Berlin. One suggestion that I would give a student who is planning to go abroad is to travel! I loved the Italian culture but getting to compare German culture with Italian was unreal. I was only in Berlin for about 48 hours; therefore, I would love to go back because it was one of the top places I visited.
The last place I visited was Southern Italy – Positano and Amalfi. My friends and I ended our trip the best way by staying the last weekend soaking up the sun and enjoying the rich culture of Italy. The Airbnb we stayed at looked like a picture because of how beautiful it was. The host of the place barely spoke any English but it made the trip better because we had to use the skills we had been learning throughout our time in Italy.
Studying abroad definitely changed my life drastically because of the experiences I had as well as the friends I met. The friends I met abroad will always be my friends even though we are all located across the U.S. I think everyone should go abroad while young and adaptable because to experience a different culture than your own is important. I learned so much from just living in a different country for one month and hope I have the opportunity to study abroad again.
Hannah Rowan is majoring in Exercise Science and spent the Summer 2019 semester studying abroad in Rome, Italy through CIEE. Hannah had the following to say about studying abroad, “Don’t hesitate, just go for it because it may just change your life! Go while you are young and have no obligations.”
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