The most eye-opening experience of my life! August 24, 2018

By (University of Massachusetts Amherst / UMass) - abroad from 05/21/2018 to 06/23/2018 with

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

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I gained an abundance of independence and confidence in my ability to meet new people. I learned a new perspective on food, nutrition and sustainability of Italian culture versus American. I learned to respect differences in cultures and fully immerse myself to get the most out of my experience. It was extremely worthwhile and eye opening to learn so much in so little time about a completely different way of living.

Review Photos

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

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? None

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

Exactly what you would want and expect from a 5 week summer abroad program; extremely hands on, in the field knowledge as opposed to constant classroom lectures.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

The nicest and most welcoming people I have ever met!

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

Our apartment in Trastevere was amazing. Fresh produce market right outside our door every single morning, extremely safe neighborhood, beautiful parks nearby, amazing restaurants and super close walk to the stunning Tiber River.

* Food:

This speaks for itself. 5 stars all around.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

By the end of the trip, I truly felt I had such a feel for the culture and area and I didn't feel like a tourist in the slightest.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

* Safety:

We were extremely prepared the day we got to Rome from the program's safety orientation. All of the issues addressed were avoided throughout my stay and I felt extremely comfortable walking to class or going for a run by myself.

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

Extremely applicable to my field of study (Nutrition) and gave me a different perspective of food culture as a whole.

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)

Traveling was just a lot more expensive than I planned on, but I really didn't want to hold back and just tried to accept the fact that I would spend a lot of money. We started off going out to eat a lot, which added up the most and then once we started buying our own groceries we saved a lot more money.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? At least $350
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Definitely save up more than you think, try not to get sucked into touristy things like the tour buses, and buy your own groceries if you're there for an extended period of time.

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

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? I took French from sixth grade to twelfth grade where I took French 5.
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? Taking a class in Italy helped a lot because the entire class was in Italian and really helped get my ear familiar with the words and phrases.

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Apartment
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans
  • International Students
* Who did you take classes with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans
  • International Students
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?
  • Classes were interactive and in the field (food tours) rather than classroom most of the time.
  • The people/ location of apartment
  • The excursion to Cliento
* What could be improved?
  • Some days were a little too long/exhausting
  • Mixing GustoLab students with more international or local students just to meet more people
  • More of a heads up for certain events; some things were sprung on us last minute and it caused some stress
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? I wish I knew ahead of time that I would be in class for a huge majority of the day, I knew it was intensive, but just an outline of the schedule earlier on would've been nice to have prior to arriving to Rome. I also wish I knew how simple/cheap it was to get a SIM card and how helpful it is to have data, just to navigate around when on my own.

Reasons For Studying Abroad

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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.