I love Rome September 19, 2017

By (University of Massachusetts Amherst / UMass) - abroad from 05/23/2016 to 06/25/2016 with

Gustolab International: Rome - Institute for Food Studies Semester and Programs

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I knew I wanted to keep going abroad!

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 0-2 weeks

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

Classes require a decent amount of reading, but it is well worth it. You really learn a lot from the chosen texts and

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

Incredibly helpful, welcoming, loving, a really good environment to be in! The onsite facilitator was really helpful and friendly so I felt 100% comfortable going to her with any questions about anything!

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

It is important to keep in mind that European apartments are MUCH different than American apartments. We fit 7 girls in my apartment (3 bedrooms, 2 doubles and 1 triple) but they were still spacious and had more than enough room for all of us. The kitchen was a smallish (decent size for European) galley kitchen so we would normally cook in pairs and then eat at our dinner table together. Our apartment had 2 bathrooms and for 7 people, it worked out a lot better than you would expect.

* Food:

Cooking for ourselves and getting to know the restaurants in our neighborhood was really exciting! We had some really good meals, even if we stayed to chicken, pasta, and vegetables. There were days when we would cook with the critical studies teacher, and we had some lovely meals! I learned how to make pesto, and when I got home (to the US), I taught my parents, too!

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

My language skills absolutely increased, but because I lived with other American students, there were some parts of the culture I didn't really get to experience. If I hadn't lived with Americans, I probably would have been in culture shock a lot longer.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

I did not have any health issues abroad, so I don't know.

* Safety:

There are certain things that are common sense, regardless of country: don't walk alone at night, stay in groups, be smart about where you are, don't get blackout drunk. Having the consulate come in to tell us about what they would do in case of emergency was actually comforting for me.The woman they sent was also very friendly and I really enjoyed listening to her.

If you could do it all over again would you choose the same program? Yes

This is a very well put together, very well executed program with people who 100% know what they're talking about. This is not a program for a photoshoot ("OMG I'm in Rome), this is a program where you'll appreciate Italy, Rome, and everything about them.

Finances

* Money: How easily were you able to live on a student's budget?

(1 = not very easy/$200+ on food & personal expenses/week, 2.5 = $100/week, 5 = very easily/minimal cost)

I brought almost entirely cash because I have a local bank/debit card that I knew did not have any international partners. My roommates stuck to a smaller budget than I did. Some of them have Bank of America, which has a partner (BNP) in Italy, so they could go to the ATMs without charge. It was easy to budget for food (like I said, pasta, chicken, veggies), and then maybe 25-35 euro for the nights we went out for dinner (one of my roommates had a birthday, so we went out for dinner). Travelling (I went to Capri and Naples with another girl) for the weekend and we actually pulled it off really well! Viator has some really awesome deals, especially when they include meals on excursions.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? Probably 75 euro (including going out to dinner and drinks)
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? You really don't need to buy everyone you know a souvenir... If someone is convinced they really need one, magnets are always a cheap, cute way to go.

Language

* Did your program have a foreign language component? Yes
How much did the program encourage you to use the language?

0 = No encouragement, 5 = frequent encouragement to use the language

When in Rome, do as the Romans, SPEAK ITALIAN

How would you rate your language skills at the beginning of the program? Beginner
How would you rate your language skills at the end of the program? Intermediate
What was the highest level language course you had completed prior to departure? Italian 4 in highschool, Italian 120 in college
How many hours per day did you use the language?
Do you have any tips/advice on the best ways to practice the language for future study abroad participants? If you're going to ask someone a question in Italian, be ready for an answer in Italian! Either way, definitely try to talk to as many people as possible. My roommates and I had dinner one night and struck up a conversation with an elderly couple, they were so sweet!

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Apartment
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans
* Who did you take classes with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans
About how many local friends did you make that you will likely keep in touch with?

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • The people
  • The location
  • The classes
* What could be improved?
  • Nothing comes to mind
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? Don't stay up until 4am talking to your boyfriend because you're nervous about being away from home. Try to get a normal sleep schedule going. He'll appreciate updates as you go.