Relearning How to Learn

Ana Marie Hanger: AU Human Sciences- Fall Program in Ariccia, Italy, Fall 2021

While it is hard to choose what my favorite part of studying abroad was, something that I cherished while I was in Italy was what I like to call “undisrupted learning.” I am not sure if that is the proper term for what I am referencing, but it sounds right to me. 

While studying abroad, you are in a constant state of learning. Whether it be in your classes, on field trips, or even just participating in everyday activities (yes, that does include laundry). While I was in Italy, every minute was a learning experience, but every minute I was excited to learn. As a senior at Auburn, I had become used to the cycle of classes. While my classes here at Auburn have been interesting throughout the years, I had begun to lose my excitement towards them. I had lost interest in the topics and felt like my goal each semester was just to complete every class and earn a successful grade – not to actually retain anything that I had learned. On top of clubs, jobs and social events, my classes often accidentally fell to the back burner in my everyday life.

I felt the complete opposite in Italy. I was fascinated with Italian culture, history and art. I loved the classes that I took, but I also loved how inspired I felt to continue learning. During the program, I was encouraged to pick back up studying French, as I had studied it for 8 years in middle and high school. I was motivated to register for varying spring courses back on Auburn’s campus that did not exactly fit into my curriculum, but were topics of interest I had been wanting to learn more about. My view changed and I began to see my classes as an opportunity rather than a chore. 

Outside of the classroom, I learned how to interact with different types of people, some who did not speak the same language as me. I learned how to successfully ride the bus (after failing miserably trying to reach a thrift store). I was taught how to make handmade pasta, and tiramisu for dessert. I learned how to use a Moka pot- which I now use daily for my coffee. I even attended kickboxing classes from a World Champion kickboxer. (Gabriele Casella – look him up!)

When I think back on my study abroad experience, I can only think about how grateful I am that I had the opportunity to participate. For 12 weeks, I woke up and said “I can’t believe this is real life!” It was the experience of a lifetime, and I will use what I learned, and how I learned, for the rest of my life. 

Ana Marie Hanger

JSB in Ariccia, Italy Fall 2022

Auburn Abroad

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