This summer, I had the opportunity to study abroad for 5 weeks in Sorrento, Italy. This was my first time ever leaving the United States and travelling by myself, so I was extremely nervous. Needless to say, this was one of the best opportunities I’ve ever had and I’m so thankful I was able to go and experience life in another country.
I studied with CIS Abroad at Sant’anna Institute, and I took a human rights class where I learned about human rights and political systems around the world. I decided to do this program for many reasons – the beautiful scenery, amazing food, a culture full of history, and a wide variety of places to travel to throughout Italy. I lived in an apartment about a 10-minute walk from the beach, so I had very easy access to beautiful seaside views.
July is one of the hottest months in Sorrento, and we experienced a major heat wave while we were there. I thought I was used to hot weather like it is in Tennessee, but the humidity is a different level. One thing I had to adapt to was not having free water or ice at restaurants – this was probably one of my biggest culture shocks. I didn’t realize that we Americans love our cold water as much as we do! Something I also had to get used to was walking everywhere. This was one of the things I miss most about Sorrento and being in Europe in general, as most places abroad were built for walking.
Although pasta was the main dish I ate in Sorrento, I tried several different types of pizza and other kinds of Italian dishes, all of which were fresh and homemade. One of my favorite authentic dishes that is like a lasagna, called cannelloni, originated in Sorrento. Something unique about Sorrento is that it is known for its citrus fruits, specifically lemons. All around the city you can find lemon and orange trees with giant fruits, and you can pick fruit as you walk around. Limoncello, a type of lemon liquor often made from the lemons grown in Sorrento, is common throughout Italy and is served at the end of a meal at most restaurants.
Although I really enjoyed Sorrento, I visited a few other fascinating places while I was abroad. I visited the city of Amalfi one day and went to the Amalfi cathedral, went shopping, and enjoyed the beach. I also visited Rome with my roommate for a few hours, and we got a quick view of the Fountain of Trevi, the Colosseum, and tried Italian McDonald’s. We made our way to Florence later that day and spent the next day there, where we visited the Gucci Museum (highly recommend), the Ponte Vecchio, the Piazza del Duomo, and visited local shops. We were able to visit all of these places using the amazing train system that Italy has, where you can ride a high-speed train to many major cities for a decent price.
One weekend, I took a spontaneous solo trip to Amsterdam, and this was one of the best experiences I could have ever had. I was a little nervous about going by myself, but it was 100% worth it. I stayed in a hostel where I made friends from all over the world, and I was able to see so many places throughout the city, including the Rijksmuseum, the Anne Frank house, Vondelpark, the Red Light District, the Rembrandtplein, and the hundreds of beautiful canals that compose the city.
Although I was excited to come home and see my family and friends, I was upset to leave Italy and all the memories I made in my time abroad. My eyes were opened to so many other cultures and ways of life that I could have never imagined. I am so thankful that I had this opportunity to live in another country for 5 weeks, and I can’t wait until the day I can go back.
Bailey Bynum (BS Environmental Science) spent the Summer 2023 semester studying abroad in Sorrento, Italy through CIS Abroad. Bailey had the following to say about studying abroad, “Just go for it! Even if you are nervous about what to expect, you will have an amazing time and have so much fun. Studying abroad has been one of the best parts of my college experience and I’m so thankful I was able to go.”
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