Italy Blog #1

Published on Sunday, July 24th, 2011

Melissa holding up the Leaning Tower

Why did you decide to pursue Study Abroad?  Why this particular program/country?
I always knew traveling to Europe was something I only dreamed about doing in the future. I never thought it was possible until Becker sent out an e-mail about students interested in studying abroad. The place I most wanted to visit was Italy so going in I knew I wanted to find a school there.

Was it your first time abroad?  Were you nervous about leaving the country and moving to a new environment thousands of miles away for a few months?  How did you deal with it?
At the point of my life when I was ready to leave I don’t think nervous summed up how I really felt. I was so eager and excited. No one in my family ever traveled as far as I did and for as long as I had. It was easy to cope because I had the mind set of knowing I will be home eventually and that there is no reason to dwell on being homesick because I would regret it in the end. It was also easy to cope meeting my house mates and faculty. They made it a lot easier. The community as well was very helpful!

What did the school, Center for International Studies, and/or the country do to ensure that you felt welcome and comfortable?
CIS was always there to answer my questions and to make sure I was safe. I never felt like I was doing this process alone. As for the school in Italy, we had many days of orientation and meeting with staff that helped us get to know everyone. As for the country itself, I met a lot of caring locals who were always there to help us and come familiar with the language.

How would you compare Palazzo Rucellai to Becker, in terms of:  academics; student life?
Study Abroad was very distracting in terms of academics. As much as you wanted to learn it was hard knowing about all the new excitement going on outside of the classroom. What we did and how we learned though was interesting as well. European education is very demanding and is completely different from what students are accustomed to at Becker. As for student life, it was much the same. Going to school in another country where the general language is not English, we were not able to study with Italian students, so Palazzo Rucellai was a school of Americans.

How would you compare Florence to Worcester?
As much as I love the two cities, I don’t think there can ever be a comparison to Florence. If you were to ask a person what their favorite city is in Italy, I am 100% sure they would say Florence. Florence was my home and in it was filled with history and great places and people.

Learning the cuisine of Italy

What was the biggest challenge?
I think the biggest challenge was life after my study abroad adventure and settling back home. Culture shock hit hard coming home. As much as I was happy to see my family and friends, it was devastating leaving a place you made your home for the past few months and the people who might not ever get to see again.

What was the most rewarding part of the experience?
I think the most rewarding part of studying abroad were the places I got to see and the people I met as well as learning a lot about myself. It’s hard to pinpoint one good thing about this that sums it all up, but it’s every good and bad experience that I went through that will change me forever and those experiences came with no regret.

What did you gain from this pursuit, i.e. how do you feel this experience will help your future career pursuits, graduate school applications, or whatever else you decide to pursue?
This experience has shaped me to be so cultured and to have depth. I think it is intriguing to know someone has study abroad and it shows others that you have responsibility as well as being well cultured and experienced. I cannot wait to apply for graduate school and have someone ask me about my experience in studying abroad.

What advice would you give any Becker student who might be considering Study Abroad, but is a bit nervous to take that extra step and apply?
This I think was the most difficult question to answer. As much as I want everyone to experience everything I had, it’s hard to persuade people into wanting to study abroad and to tell them not to be nervous because yes, you should be nervous, but you should be excited as well. I can only say so much about how amazing it was and how I will never be the same person, but it takes someone who wants a change and who is willing to experience something new to consider studying abroad. I promise any person who studies abroad that their life will never be the same, but I mean that as their life will hold depth, they will be cultured, they will experience things that they never thought of and they will enjoy every second being abroad. For those students who are nervous, don’t be. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain! 

Interview conducted by Eric Saczawa, Director of Career Services