Over the summer of 2019, I completed a month-long study abroad program over the summer, where we would go on excursions, have class for an hour or two, and have nights for free time. This program was my first international trip and study abroad experience, and when I returned home I knew I wanted to study abroad again. I quickly looked for another program through my university, registered for it and waited for departure day, and the COVID-19 lockdown happened. I was no longer able to travel internationally, or at all, and the program was canceled.
When I transferred to UTC in 2020, during quarantine, I was not hopeful international travel would be available during the remainder of my college experience; and then I received an email talking about a week-long program, over spring break, in Rome. This was the perfect option! Not too long, not too short, and course lectures would not be held in the country. Due to classes only being held state-side during the semester, this meant the days in the country would be excursion-centered; perfect for a quick stay in an Italian city. Spring break is also a usual travel week, so other courses and my internship weren’t meeting during the time I would be abroad.
Another reason I chose to participate in this program is because the course, Classics 1200, connected to the location’s history, which elevated the experience in-country. For example, the Galleria Borghese and Vatican Museums featured artworks that depicted scenes and characters from the reading material assigned, which connected to our comprehension and analysis of the subject. In our excursion to the Parco Archaeologico di Ostia Antica, an active archaeological site outside of the city, our guide was able to explain the historical significance of the area, and how the excavation will shed light on ancient life there. Our guide, Guisseppe, was a main highlight of the excursions; his knowledge, articulation, and passion for his work as a guide and art historian was impressive and inspiring.
One of my favorite days was when our group took a bus ride up the Alban Hills, to a villa called Nemi, overlooking a volcanic crater lake. The view was fantastic, the town itself was quiet and charming, and it felt good to get out of the city for a little bit. Almost all of us bought strawberry-themed jewelry or items, because the villa is known for growing strawberries and making various treats and preserves.
The last night, as well, was very special for myself and the group, as we all were able to attend a pizza making class at a local restaurant. This group activity was the perfect way to spend time together, in a fun and interactive way, and allowed the trip to end on a positive note before our flight experience back. I highly recommend future programs incorporate group activities that are hands-on, such as cooking classes or, from my other trip, ceramic pottery making.
A few tips and tricks I would offer to anyone interested in studying abroad is first, do extensive research on the country you are planning to visit, including language, social etiquette, and cultural knowledge. I also would implore them to research the weather and climate conditions during the time of travel; we were fortunate enough to have perfect weather during our experience, but I assume it would be beneficial to plan ahead just in case. Another tip I would offer is don’t be afraid of going when you don’t know anyone attending prior to arrival in-country. Originally my roommate was supposed to go on the trip, but unfortunately dropped out, but I didn’t allow not knowing anyone to stop me. I made sure to be friendly and open-minded to meeting new people, and this trip featured a really compatible group of students. We all got along, supported each other, had fun during free time, and it really made a difference for those who had not studied abroad before, or even traveled internationally. That alludes to probably the most important advice, which is to be open-minded, confident in yourself, friendly to others, and not afraid to put yourself out of your comfort zone. I implore any student looking to advance their college experience through an immersive and transformative way, to apply for a study abroad program.
Peyton Marsh (BA Communication) spent Spring Break 2022 in Rome, Italy as part of a faculty-led trip linked with a UTC course. Peyton had the following to say about study abroad, “Be open-minded, confident in yourself, friendly to others, and not afraid to put yourself outside of your comfort zone. The effects of traveling internationally with fellow students is an opportunity that should not be passed up; the result is one of personal and educational growth, combined with exposure to intricate cultures and beautiful locations.”
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