Q: Initially, what made you decide to study abroad? Why did you choose your program?
A: I decided to study abroad because it has always been a goal of mine since highschool and at the time, I was in need of change. I figured that since it was a goal of mine to study abroad during my academic career, that I should take the leap and go because it would offer me the new experiences I was looking for. I chose the Sociology in Rome program because I was interested in the history of Italy and the architecture was beautiful. I felt that Italy would best fit what I was looking for because I wanted a big change and Rome felt so much larger than the small city I came from.
Q: What was the highlight of your study abroad experience?
A: The highlight of my study abroad experience was the people I met. I made so many friends through my program and from the countries I visited and I still keep in contact with them today. Another highlight of my experience was the new scenery I would come across everyday in Italy. Waking up was a joy because I knew I would discover beautiful new buildings and new paths to walk on everyday.
Q: What was your greatest challenge abroad and how did you overcome it?
A: My greatest challenge abroad was dealing with culture shock and not knowing that it was why I was feeling overwhelmed. As someone who had never traveled out of the country before, studying abroad in Italy was a big leap for me. Since I had never traveled out of the country before, the only thing I knew about culture shock was what I had learned from others. I didn't realize that the overwhelming emotions I was feeling of whether or not I made the right decision was because of culture shock. To overcome this, I talked a lot with those in the program who were experiencing the same emotions. We had a lot of late night talks and discussing these feelings with others made me realize that I wasn't as alone as I thought I was. I pushed myself to go out with others and found myself becoming more comfortable with where I was at. Pushing myself to talk to more people and going out helped me adjust quicker and after two weeks, I felt happy and secure in my decision.
Q: How did your coursework abroad compare to your courses at UC Merced?
A: My coursework abroad was less difficult than my courses at UC Merced. While this varies for every program, I felt that my workload abroad was not heavy and the projects were spread apart which gave me enough time to complete them. I suggest working on projects or essays over the course of a few days that way you aren't stressed working on them last minute.
Q: What did you gain from your study abroad experience?
A: From my study abroad experience, I gained lifelong friendships and shared memories with those friends that I can reflect on whenever I miss Rome. I also gained new perspectives from the people I met during my trips.
Q: What advice do you have for students considering study abroad?
A: The advice I would give to those considering study abroad is to take the leap. The decision may be scary but it is 100% worth it. Once you make that decision, be sure to stay present. Travel by yourself if you're comfortable doing so. If you're bored, don't just stay in your dorm or apartment, go out and explore the city you're in. Try as many new restaurant's as you can. Don't make sleeping in a habit. Make a list of all the places you want to visit so that you know ahead of time. Try activities that locals do. Most importantly, always try new things no matter how scary it may seem at first!
Q: Describe a typical day abroad.
A: A typical day abroad for me was waking up early in the morning and doing my normal morning routine. After that, my friends and I would go to get a croissant, orange juice, and fruits for breakfast from the cafe two minutes away from my dorm or the cafe near the UCEAP center. After that, I would go to my classes and then I would spend the rest of the day exploring the city and eat dinner with my friends.
Q: If you could go anywhere in the world tomorrow, where would you go and why?
A: I would go back to Rome. I would go there because it gave me so many amazing experiences and I fell in love with the city. I would go back and explore all the places I missed. I would go back to my favorite restaurants, and catch up with my friends who live in Italy.