Coming into this study abroad program I knew it was going to be a life changing experience and something that I will always remember. However, I didn’t really know the extent of it. I started my time in Rome and I started learning from then on. We went to the Colosseum and the Roman forum. Seeing those amazing ancient structures still standing and walking on the same streets as those all those years ago. That was an incredible feeling, a feeling that I experienced many times on my trip. We then visited the Vatican and was able to many beautiful ancient pieces of art. After that I spent most of my time in Siena, Italy. I was very grateful for my time in Siena was during their historical horse race. This horse race is something that has been done for years and the small neighborhoods within the walls compete in it. I really took a special interest in the communities, because as a child I grew up in the Hispanic culture and most of the communities down there where as closely knit as these are. They all take care of each other no matter what, no one is alone. They have such pride about the community they are from and investment that in some cases the communities come before blood (for example during these horse races). I did lots of research and immersing myself with in the different communities so that I could really learn and experience all that the community has to offer. As well gaining a new knowledge about the importance of the communities during the horse race, so that I could really experience it to its full extent. There are lots of festivities that surround the race and I was able to participate and experience all of them. This cultural experience has been the one that has really stuck with me even since I’ve come back.
My program specifically was catered to health science students. Through that I was able to spend time in the Italian healthcare system, and learn about how our system differ. I studied as an Italian student would benign taught by Italian healthcare professionals and I even had an opportunity to shadow in the hospital in Siena. I was so happy that this program came up and allowed me to study abroad because due to my major studying abroad is notarially not an option for a lot of health science students.
My cultural class only expanded my experiences by allowing me to learn through my visits to Florence, Rome, Pisa, and Cinque Terre. All of which were absolutely beautiful and having my professor being an Italian I was able to see the most outstanding parts of all these places without feeling like a tourist which is what I didn’t want to happen. I really felt immersed in the culture and felt more like a local living my day to day life there is such ancient historical areas.
Overall this experience has expanded my professional and personal outlooks on everything I do and will do. It is something that has changed who I am and something that I will take with me everyday. As my title indicates grazie mille (a thousand thanks or thanks so much), for this experience.
Brooke Watne (BSN Nursing) spent summer 2022 studying abroad in Siena, Italy with a program run through UT Martin. Brooke had the following to say about studying abroad, “Experiencing culture and immersing yourself that is out of your comfort zone can become your new comfort zone.”
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