What is your favorite memory from studying abroad?
My favorite memory from studying abroad was experiencing Italian lifestyle. There are many changes that I have witnessed. The biggest difference that I have witnessed was socialization. Italians tend to spend time in socializing with other people. Fact: Eataly considers socialization as a company value according to its Italian cultural values. Italians tend to socialize with other people over a meal course and have larger break periods than in America. Meeting students from all over the world contributed to my growth and witnessing different experiences in life.
What does your study abroad experience mean to you?
Study Abroad wasn’t considered as a vacation. Rather, it was a life-changing event. This experience gave me an insight more about myself by learning from new experiences. Experiences such as adapting to different cultures, live independently, and language barriers. Extending over these experiences, I took the chance to witness other cultures by traveling to nearby countries such as France and Spain. It amazes me in witnessing the unique history of different European countries. Before starting my experience, I had the expectation that every culture is similar and almost identical. Though, after what I have witnessed, some of my expectations turned out to be unexpected. I had a more understanding of life and the struggles in order to succeed. I’ve learned that you may have an expectation of a certain situation, though what happens, in reality, can be unexpected.
Change is common, and I believe that we must accept and embrace it. Change is a positive aspect. It gives us the opportunity to grow and expand outside of our boundaries. It is an opportunity to become wiser citizens of this world. I tend to have more knowledge while interacting with other cultures. I get to recognize the differences and similarities between us. I found that the most important concept whether it was interacting with cultures or embracing change, is respect. The world is a complex place and I believe that there is more to be discovered. Some people may choose to watch the news, but why not explore the world and gain your own perspective? Politics has taken over and prevented people from interacting with other cultures. There is hope for people to discover more about each other’s cultures without fear. If we can become agents of change and stand up in making this world a better place. Speak up not because it is safe, but right. The mission of making this world a better place for everyone, regarding race, ethnicity, religion, color, or beliefs. We can learn more by pushing each other to the limits. In the end, our goal is to move humanity forward, make each day better than the last, and spread positivity throughout the world.
What was your favorite class abroad and why?
My favorite class was Management 301 with Dr. Mark Teachout. The course taught me about techniques that are needed in order to manage a company appropriately anywhere around the world. Topics include Communication, Decision Making, Innovation, Strategic Planning, and Organizational Culture. Strategic Planning was my favorite section. This section explained the different plans that are implemented in different corporations. Each corporation has a strategic plan and it differs based on its operations. There can be differences between two companies with similar operations, but operating in different countries. It goes back to the concept of “Culture”. One of the biggest advantages of this course was to witness differences while being in a country abroad.
What was your favorite thing to do in your host city?
My favorite place in Rome was visiting the Terrazza Giancola. It is a hill in western Rome, Italy. Although the second-tallest hill in the contemporary city of Rome. I loved to spend time on this hill reading and studying, while I looking down at the beautiful sights. Also, there are small Italian ice cream and coffee shops for you to enjoy. Great place to spend time with friends and reminded me about the Oak Grove at IUP. I gave the place a nickname as “The European Oak Grove”.
What travel tips would you give someone studying abroad?
- Italian Coffee is the best and it is a must-try. I consider the best street food to be Arancini. Deep-frying anything practically guarantees deliciousness. Imagine crisped risotto stuffed with gooey cheese, peas and minced meats. It will show you how incredible Italian street food really is. The best dessert is the Cannoli. Complete with candied cherries and oranges on each end.
Travel on weekends to nearby countries. I managed to experience Barcelona, Toulouse, Split, and Catania. Take the chance and visit a city in the north and south of Italy. There is a difference between each portion and you can witness the impact from the cultures of Northern Europe and Northern Africa on Italian culture.
- Take the opportunity and learn a language. Being among the native people can help you develop your language skills quickly. While in Rome, I took the chance to learn some Italian but managed to develop my Spanish and French skills as well. Italian is the first language in Italy and some don’t speak English. It is best to learn survival terms in case of emergency.
- Navigating around Rome is easy. You have many different methods of transportation within the city. There is a monthly pass for 30 euros, which I highly consider purchasing if you’re spending at least a month in the city.
- There are certain ATMs that are safe to use. Highly consider Banca d’italia and Unicredit due to low risk and low fees. There are yellow ATMs that are widely spread throughout the city. Though, there is high risk and have high fees.
- Manage your time and budget carefully. There is a possibility of easily losing track of your spending. Rome is an expensive city and exchanges are made by the Euro Currency only.
- Beware of your surroundings. Rome is a safe city, though pickpocketing is common in touristic areas. Advice, do not carry a lot of cash with you on hand while visiting tourist sites. Tourists are the main target and can be easily be spotted.
Hamzah was a summer 2019 Rome student from Indiana University of Pennsylvania.