When looking at countries to study abroad in, I found it very important to be in a place where I was excited about the culture I would be experiencing. I have always been very interested in Italy and the history of the country. When I got to Rome I was very excited to explore the city and see everything that I had only read about. Figuring out the public transportation and making my way around such a busy city was so fun. I feel that I got a good grasp on Rome and I wanted to expand this experience.
In order to fully experience Italy I decided to travel within the country and this truly helped me understand Italian life even more. I went to Venice, Florence, Pompeii, and Positano for a couple days each and got to experience these cities and towns. Venice was so fun to explore with all the rivers and canals that make up the city. I really enjoyed being able to walk through history when going to Pompeii and realizing how old the country is was so amazing.
I found this very beneficial because there is such a difference in life and normal days in different areas of Italy. The traditions and food in each city I went to were so different that at times it would feel like a completely different country. One of my favorite things that I noticed were the different types of pizza in each region. On a SAI Viva Experience we went kayaking on Castel Gandolfo and they gave us a type of pizza that was typical for that region. However the pizza in Venice was much thinner and had less sauce. Even though I was in the same country there was so much that was different.
While it is fun to travel to other countries, which I did, fully experiencing the country you are actually studying is impossible to beat. Immersing yourself in a different culture and language is such a unique way to learn about it. I would recommend getting used to your host city and getting settled first before traveling. However I do believe that it was a wonderful time getting to know all the different areas of Italy. My study abroad experience was super educational and it was so exciting to explore a place I had never been to before.
Written by: Madeleine, Fall 2023 Rome student from Washington State