For the fall semester of 2021, I spent 12 weeks in Siena, Italy. I went with a program through the University of Tennessee, Martin. I found out about this program through my sister, who is currently a sophomore at UTM. This program was mainly advertised to agriculture students, but it really intrigued me and I was very interested in the experiences and opportunities they were advertising. I have been abroad before for a class trip in high school but that was only for 10 days. I had never been away from home for 3 months straight and was slightly nervous. I love traveling and have always wanted to travel the world so I thought studying abroad was the perfect opportunity. I felt more at ease about the situation because my sister was also apart of this study program so I was going in with a familiar face.
We started our trip in Rome. We stayed there for about 4 days to see and learn about the main historical monuments and places. However, I got sick with some sort of stomach flu that lasted the entire first week of being in Italy. Being sick in a foreign country is definitely not a fun experience but I am glad I had great people with me that helped take care of me. I unfortunately missed seeing all of Rome. Once we got to Siena, it took a few days to start feeling better and I was able to go out and explore the town a little bit. Siena is a very small town compared to most in Italy. The city center is surrounded by city walls. It is so small you can walk from one side of town to the other in about 15 minutes. It was about a 10 minute walk to the school. It did not take long to get anywhere you needed to go.
Because this trip was for agriculture students, most of the excursions we went on were based on that. For example, one of my favorite excursions was an overnight trip to a goat farm and dairy. There we helped to milk and feed the goats, then the next day helped make cheese with the milk we collected. That was by far my favorite excursion. But when we weren’t in class or going on group excursions, we were free to do whatever we wanted. My friend group and I went on several weekend and day trips. Some of my favorites included Pisa, Florence and Pompeii.
There was so much to see and so much more I wish I was able to see. For our fall break, we stayed 4 days in a small town called Cortina, which was located in the Dolomite Mountains. It was absolutely breathtaking. We were there in October, so the leaves were changing and it was cold but not freezing. This was my favorite trip I took and plan to go back one day.
I loved studying abroad and am so glad that I made the decision to do so. I have always wanted to travel and this trip just made me want to even more. This trip really opened my eyes and helped me embrace different cultures. I went into this trip not knowing anyone other than my sister and I am happy to say that I have made several lifelong friends. I loved studying abroad and recommend it to anyone that is even slightly interested.
Paden Leigh (BS Marketing) spent Fall 2021 studying abroad in Siena, Italy with a program run through UT Martin. Paden had the following to say about studying abroad, “Don’t be afraid to put yourself out of your comfort zone. Embrace every opportunity and experience you are given.”
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