When I envisioned my time in college I thought about football games and all-nighters but the words study abroad never came to mind. However, that all changed my sophomore year when I learned about the Joseph S. Bruno Auburn Abroad in Italy program through the College of Human Sciences. Suddenly the idea of Italian food and seeing monuments in person that I had only seen in pictures danced in my head. After some careful planning and budgeting (and parental convincing), I was signed up for a semester to live and study outside of Rome, Italy in the quaint town of Ariccia.
My time abroad has been my favorite time I have had in college. I was challenged and grew in ways that I had never before in my life. Living in the small town of Ariccia made me feel completely immersed into Italian culture. From learning that Italians really don’t eat dinner until 8 pm to having the local grocer teach us Italian words as we bought groceries, I truly felt like a local. We had class on Mondays and Wednesdays, and then we would travel to places we were studying the day before on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Through these field trips, we were able to see Italy top to bottom and everywhere in between. Then, our weekends were free for independent travel—which meant trips to Prague, Paris, and Chamonix, France.
However, there is much more to my experience than just visiting cool places. When I look back on my experience I mostly remember the people that I met and the conversations that we had. In fact, one of my favorite memories on the trip was from our last weekend abroad when a group of us from the program traveled to Chamonix, France to stay in the French Alps. In our hotel we met a French couple that invited us to eat dinner with them. They were as fascinated about our culture as we were about theirs. Our evening included lots of laughter and some things getting lost in translation, but it was a meal that I will never forget. During that dinner I learned more about French culture than I ever could have from a book.
Studying abroad taught me to embrace adventure. The experiences that I had and memories that I made while studying abroad will last a lifetime, but I also gained more self-awareness, independence and confidence—these will be essential during the rest of my time in college and the rest of my life.