THE BEST FOOD. EVER! September 26, 2017

By (University of Illinois - Urbana-Champaign) - abroad from 09/14/2015 to 12/09/2017 with

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

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I learned a lot about olive oil and wine, so I am very boujee about those things now. I also did a lot of growing up in terms of navigating a new space on my own.

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.

We took really interesting classes on olive oil, wine, and Italian cusine & culture. the classes were very atypical, which is what made them fun! The professors were interesting, specifically Prof. Ferro Trebalzi, who took us on walking tours to explain topics that related to class. There weren't many resources needed outside of the readings that were provided, but if we needed anything our professors would gladly help.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

Gustolab's administration is pretty small so its hard to hide from them! They will check in with you and help you with anything you need. They also give you space to explore and do your own thing, so they're great!

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I LOVED MY APARTMENT! I miss it so much. My best apartment in my entire undergraduate experience!

* Food:

I don't have words for the food, I have pictures that remind me of how good life once was. The food was AMAZING to say the LEAST! Gustolab made sure we ate like KINGS and I appreciate that so much.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

I lived in Rome with people from my school, but we had to navigate daily living things on our own which helped us get comfortable with the local culture.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

I never had any health issues that required hospitalization or anytihng, but I did have a cold once and our program contact, Margherita, went to the pharmacy with me and helped me pick out cold medicine. So it was pretty accessible for me.

* Safety:

As a black woman in Rome, I felt safe. I am pretty aware of my surroundings and didn't walk around through sketchy areas by myself or with headphones in. Advice: don't be naive. Be smart. Don't get wasted and hop in a cab or uber because the laws are different sometimes. Be friendly, but don't trust anybody that comes up to you offering 'help' because sadly there are people trying to scam Americans.

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

I honestly had the time of my life. My experiences definitely have impacted the way I look at food and dining overall. I'm still obesessed with Italy and the culture. The program also taught me a lot about figuring things out and navigating a foreign space without relying on my family.


* 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)

If you plan and budget, you'll do just fine. I suggest after you get your syllabus for the semester, you plan all of the trips you want to take around important semester dates to get the best prices in terms of flights and airbnb's. Then budget and plan your money around all of that and you'll be fine

Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? BUDGET BUDGET BUDGET!


* 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

Rome is a city that caters to tourists, so we took Italian Lexicon, which focused on Italian in terms of food and dining. We didn't take Italian for conversational or survival pursposes.

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? Beginner
What was the highest level language course you had completed prior to departure? Latin 4
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? Force yourself to use it outside of class. Don't be discouraged if people automatically speak to you in English. If you feel confident, speak Italian and surprise them.

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? 0

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • The food
  • The 2 week Italian Countryside trip
  • The freedom they gave us to explore
* What could be improved?
  • Italian classes should teach conversational Italian
  • our final projects were a bit stressful due to unclear instructions
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? That I should budget and spend my money wisely :)

Reasons For Studying Abroad

To help future students find programs attended by like-minded individuals, please choose the profile that most closely represents you.
The Outright Urbanite
A social butterfly, you're happiest in bustling cities with hip people, and took advantage of all it had to offer. You enjoyed the nightlife, and had fun going out dancing, and socializing with friends. Fun-loving and dressed to the nines, you enjoyed discovering new restaurants, shops, cafes, and bars in your host country.