Can you describe what you were doing while you were in Italy? What was the focus of your program?
The program focused on the history of Roman art from past to present. The site visits consisted of museums, churches, and nature (Villa d’Este). We started off by working with mediums that we hadn’t used before, such as painting, drawing, photography, and Photoshop. Our quarterly project focused on the use of two different mediums of our choice. I chose photography and Photoshop. During the site visits, I captured images of objects that I found to be appealing. I used the pictures I took to create a collage and memorial of my father. He had passed away several months before my study abroad experience. Although he couldn’t physically be present, I wanted to incorporate him into my study abroad experience.
Share a completely unexpected experience you had while you were abroad. What did you learn from it?
A group of friends and I went to the Trevi Fountain. We wanted to check out the nightlife, so we sat on this big staircase. These men kept coming around us and asking, “hey, do you ladies want a rose?”. We thought it was so nice of these guys to give us roses; how sweet and romantic. He told us it was free and one of my friends took a rose. Come to find, he actually came back and was hassling us for money. He came chasing us down the street and said because we took a rose from him that we had to pay him. I was not aware of that before. I would say it’s important to make yourself culturally aware and try to involve yourself with people who have traveled abroad before.
How did studying abroad positively affect your personal, professional, or academic life?
I have always been interested in the European culture. I always knew I wanted to travel. But I didn’t know how I could financially afford to travel being a college student. When this study abroad opportunity came up, I wanted to apply for the program and I needed this credit to be able to get my Social Work degree. I also wanted to gain cultural competency and I knew the only way to do that would be to immerse myself into a new culture. While abroad, I learned that time is perceived differently throughout each culture. For example, if you ordered food, you had to wait a very long time. In America, we are accustomed to getting our food really fast. A few of my roommates were actually getting upset when we had to wait. They felt really impatient, but I learned through this experience that part of the European culture is sitting down one-on-one and talking with each other and just having a conversation without being on your phone. It seemed as though individuals really valued the importance of building relationships with one another.
Describe the food! What did you survive on?
The food was amazing. I had carbonara a few times and it was really good- so were the croissants. When we first arrived in Italy, my roommate – who’s also a student here at UWT in the social work program – ordered a latte and she got warm milk. That was a very funny experience. And obviously you don’t want to be rude, so you just drink the warm milk with your croissants. What I also really valued was that a lot of the Middle Eastern refugees had come into Europe and so they had a lot of Middle Eastern restaurants. I spent most of my time during lunch eating Middle Eastern food because I love it. Having a variety of foods to choose from made me feel like Italy was very inclusive towards tourist and individuals living in the country.
How does study abroad still have an impact on your life today?
I talk about my study abroad experience all the time. Studying abroad gave me a gift. I always tell people to travel. You don’t need a lot of money. Eat out less and purchase fewer coffees; just go and you will have such a good time. Travel while you can. When you are overseas, say yes to everything. Your willingness to try new things will enhance your overall traveling experience. You will be transformed. You will be challenged beyond your comfort zone and you will grow as a result. In Europe, I didn’t know anyone, and no one knew me. Therefore, I had to learn the language and assimilate myself to the culture. This required me to learn things that I didn’t know before, like how to say “where’s the bathroom? How much does this cost? How do we get to this location?” Phrases such as these were essential to communicating with the locals. I also had the opportunity to meet with people that I wouldn’t have met if I did not study abroad.
The University of Washington Tacoma Environmental Sciences, Biomedical Sciences, Environmental Sustainability, and Mathematics majors host an Environmental Research Symposium, Sciences and Mathematics Undergraduate Research Symposium (SAMURS).