Study Abroad Blog Post

March 30, 2018 Blog by: Allison Pace, Honors Rome: Staging the City

The most common questions I hear about study abroad all have to do with funding. Before applying to my program, I was one of those students questioning the high price of going abroad. Along with the expense, I was also terrified of leaving home for the first time. Like myself, I suspect there are many students in the situation that studying abroad is their first time ever going abroad. I never intended on studying abroad during my time at UW Bothell, but I am so grateful I did.

My study abroad journey started with a mentor of mine pulling up a list of programs on her phone, handing it to me, and saying “pick one.” She knew about my apprehension with studying abroad, but also knew these were obstacles that could easily be overcome. I ended up choosing a program in Italy because my heritage. My last name is Italian, and my grandfather has always talked about our Italian genes. Another reason I chose my program is because it was an early fall start, which means it lasts four weeks verses an entire quarter. This was perfect for me because I wouldn’t be gone from home for three months, and the cost was significantly smaller than most of the quarter long programs. I did not waste anytime once I made the decision to study abroad before applying to the UWB study abroad scholarship. It was important to find extra funding, which is why I applied for many study abroad scholarships. I won the UWB scholarship, which alleviated a lot of stress, and helped offset the cost of my flight.

A couple things that surprised me during the application process were:

  1. Most study abroad programs do not purchase group flights for you. It is up to you to choose a travel partner/group and buy tickets together if you do not want to fly alone.
  2. There is an interview process, conducted by the faculty who will be leading the program. They really take into consideration why you want to study abroad.

Before leaving, there were so many parts to consider. I needed to apply for a passport, order outlet adapters, transfer American dollars to euros, etc. I recommend that students take the time to look through the check-list UW study abroad has created to hit all the important preparation pieces that are essential for successful travels. The list really helped my lay out exactly what needed to be done, and by when. For example, if you do not already have a passport, it takes a while to receive it after applying for it. Thinking and planning ahead, along with making a to-do list, can eliminate the stress of feeling unprepared and anxious.

Be prepared for a long flight! Pack snacks, entertainment, and where comfortable clothing. If you have never traveled by plane before, make sure to check what carry-on items are TSA approved. After checking these regulations, I bought snacks for the flight such as nuts, beef jerky, dried fruit, candy, and gum. I brought headphones and a portable battery charger, however I did not end up using them because there was a USB outlet on the flight (per seat) and airlines typically hand out headphones.

When in Rome

Landing in Rome was refreshing after a long flight. Maneuvering through the airport was not as intimidating as I suspected for two main reasons: (1) in airports there are always multiple languages available, so English was posted on all of the signs, (2) almost all the people on the flight were headed to customs so it was easy to follow the big group.

For the first night in Rome my travel partner and I stayed in a hotel room because we could not check into the Rome center until the first day of class. We decided to stay at a hotel attached to the airport because we knew we would need to rest after the flight. Also, we wanted some time to get situated before embarking to the city.

Luckily the hotel we stayed at (the Hilton) had a shuttle to the city center. We were able to use this for transportation to Rome on move-in day. Prior to move-in day we scoped a path to the UW Rome center, so we knew exactly what way to go because we pulled our suitcases through the city. We wanted to save money on a taxi; it wasn’t too bad, but the cobblestones were a little rough on my suitcase wheels. Checking into the UW Rome center is easy, but make sure you follow all their instructions! Have exact cash for the deposit and be ready to follow their rules; both the UW Rome center’s rules and the landlord’s rules of which ever apartment you stay in.

From this point on, every day was an adventure! For each class we would tour different sites around the city and talk about the ancient history. Weekends were free time, so my group and I planned mini trips either inside Rome or surrounding cities to see as many places as we could.

Everyone has their opinion of the “must see” places in Italy, and mine is the coast. I would not leave Italy until you have traveled to a coastal city and enjoyed the beach! My favorite is costal town is Sperlonga; I only went to three beaches though. It is beautiful and not as tourist filled as the city of Rome. Be prepared for your language skills to be stretched, because not many people speak English there.