My experience abroad was truly life changing. I got to experience many beautiful cultures and their way of life. My classes were very fun and interesting. The school has great professors to teach us. I loved being able to travel on the weekends to other parts of Italy or even other countries. I got to visit London and Paris and loved it so much. This program was great because it was longer than most. I got to be there for almost 5 full months. The people and culture changed my life forever. I came back with a new perspective on life and how to really value it. It was the best months of my life and I recommend it to every single student if they are able.
The most valuable experience I encountered was all of the traveling. Whether it was through the school or just on my own, I think that those adventures were the most valuable thing to come from my study abroad. Seeing every region of Italy really shows you the culture. The people are different but also the same everywhere. They all have the same loving energy and welcoming hearts. The stories that they and their towns hold will never leave me. I learned so much just by watching and listening to them. They have so much richness and joyfulness to offer strangers. I just couldn't believe where I was. I couldn't believe that that was my home for five months. I fell in love with that country and its people.
The most memorable experience that I had was traveling to Paris for my 21st birthday with my best friends. My best friend was studying abroad in Spain at the same time as me, so we decided to meet up in Paris for my birthday weekend. We stayed in a hostel and had the best time. We traveled the city and did every tourist thing. We also went to a jazz club at night and that was life changing. I was living my dream listening to French jazz. I spent my actual birthday hanging out in front of the Eiffel Tower and eating the best macarons. Our flight home got cancelled so we had to stay an extra day. This was perfect because it gave us the time to go to Versailles. We originally didn't have that in our trip because it is pretty far from the city, so I am so grateful we were able to go after all. It was a magical time spent with the best of friends.
What did you not expect?
I keep mentioning this, but it truly did change me. I was surprised with the lifestyle of the Italians. They are laid back, happy, welcoming, and taking time one second at a time. I wish to apply this to my personal and professional life. They just had a carefree sort of spirit. They were never in a rush or didn't have time for you. They will go out of their way to help you. Meals are the same way. They don't rush through their meals. They love to enjoy the food, drinks, and company. It is an experience, not a task. I want to start living like this. To take the time for others and small, daily things. I don't want to rush through this life and miss the important things or even the smallest of things. I don't want to work at a company that I hate but just keep with it because it's money. I want to do what truly makes me happy.
What advice would you give?
My advice for other students wanting to study abroad would to just be so open to everything. I know money is sometimes a concern especially when you can't work abroad, but it honestly is worth it. Take every single trip that you can. Go on all of the small day trips. Fully immerse yourself in the culture and find things to do that aren't so touristy as well. Don't worry about the money because every single thing abroad is so totally worth it.
How has this experience impacted your life?
This experience impacted my life so much. The culture just really showed me how to slow down and to breathe a little. In America, we are always just on the go, whereas in Italy, they take their time and don't worry about the little things. This past semester really pushed me academically. I took fun classes that I wouldn't normally take at ISU. I was able to design and use my creative side to come up with collections and designs. I loved being able to use my sewing skills again and create a gorgeous gown. I took a few classes about Italian lifestyle, language, and art. It really opened my eyes to their world and educated me in a way everyone should be when visiting another country. Taking the design class helped me realize that even if I am not a design major, I can still apply it to my career. The fashion industry is never-ending and has so many opportunities. I can relax knowing that when I graduate with my merchandising degree, I will still be able to apply and maybe even go into another part of the industry if I discover the business side is not what I want to do anymore.
How did you learn about this experience?
I learned from my own research. I knew I wanted to study abroad since freshman year, so I did a lot of research of where to go and what to do.International Connections