IES Rome was Inspiring, Exciting, and "Speciale" August 14, 2016

By (Hamilton College) - abroad from 02/01/2016 to 05/19/2016 with

IES Abroad: Study Rome - Language & Area Studies

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I learned how to be more of an adult, to live more on my own, and how to be independent and resourceful in a totally different culture. I learned to travel and exist in a place where people may not know you're language, and how to communicate. I learned all about the refugee crisis and terrorism in Europe, from a first-hand perspective. I learned about the origin of Catholicism, and how to make the best pasta carbonara. It certainly was worthwhile, to say the least!!!

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 1 month - 6 months

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

The intensity of the program was perfect; I was able to get a meaningful academic experience, one comparable to my rigorous one at Hamilton,without feeling like it was a hindrance to my time in Rome.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

IES staff were friendly and helpful, and I never felt like I was babied or controlled by a strict program, like another abroad experience I had. When my wallet got stolen, they were helpful and informative, but I was treated the whole time as an adult. I think this is key: we are students but we are adults, and the staff treated us as such, (which is rare I believe.)

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

Housing was great; whether you choose a homestay or apartment, they both will be unforgettable experiences. Both options are located in prime locations in Rome - really, you luck out! I was in Trastevere in a homestay, who were friendly and kind but also gave me my independence/space as well! A bonus to the homestay is that you get three free dinners a week! My homestay was not a social sacrifice either; you're located by a bunch of other homestay students in a really happening neighborhood (such a good one that many apartment kids go there for the nightlife!) Having seen many apartments, they are lovely, and you get to live with an Italian college student (ISC as they call it). I met many Italian friends through the ISCs, so really either housing option is a win!

* Food:

I thought we would have some sort of a meal plan like my home institution, but unfortunately, there is no stipend or meal plan for this program unless you choose a homestay. If you do, you get three free dinners a week and breakfast every day. The program does have a few events (like in orientation) with free meals, which were lovely. You also go on a weekend trip to Amalfi or Tuscany, and meals are included there. But besides that, you're on your own, so get familiar with Italian supermarkets!

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

The homestays and apartment ISCs, or Italian live-in students, were the main way IES has cultural integration. I do wish we had Italian students in our classes because it was hard to meet Italians. I joined a gym, and that really helped, but I did that outside the program. Our professors were Italian, so that helped!

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

I didn't have any health issues, but if I did I know the on-site nurse and the program's insurance would have helped me out!

* Safety:

Ok, so Rome is a big city, and there definitely is a problem with stealing there. In one week, I got my wallet and my IPhone 6 stolen (on two separate occasions). And I know what you're thinking, but I had my bag zipped, on my person, surrounded by other students, and was very precautious. I had shooed off pick-pocketers on other occasions as well. You must get a bag that zips and goes across your body. But this happens to Italians too: one professor of mine had things stolen five times throughout her 2 years in Rome. The only other issue I had safety-wise was groping on the city bus, which happened more at the end of the semester when the buses got crowded and warmer. It didn't happen often, but it something you could expect in a bigger city. The buses was were my goods were stolen, so just be careful there. The city itself is safe, and as a woman I was comfortable walking alone or traveling by bus even late at night, especially in the city center.

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

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 could live on a student's budget, but it certainly was more expensive then my time at Hamilton, especially since there's no opportunity for employment or extra income. My home campus is pretty rural, so there are few expenses other than the occasional coffee (meal plan included in tuition.) So having to pay for most of my meals and the cost of travel was more expensive!! Always have emergency money, since my phone got stolen and I had to pay for a new one!

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? 50 euros at least
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Going out is fun, but the cost adds up quick!

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

It was nice, they encouraged but it wasn't a huge burden. You learn and use the language out of neccessity.

How would you rate your language skills at the beginning of the program? Intermediate
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? 2nd semester Italian
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? Learn as much as you can before you go!! Having a good base is important. Then talk to Italians, because colloquial phrases are really important to learn! Also, learn the hand gestures and when to use them, it's important!

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Host Family
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Host Family
* 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 classes, esp. field studies
  • Internship opportunity
  • Trips to Amalfi/Tuscany, among others
* What could be improved?
  • Italian students in classes
  • More food included
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? Do not bring heels or winter boots, you won't ever use them! Bring as much black as you can and more casual dresses with tights. Don't compare your abroad experience with others. You may travel as much as them, or not, but it's meant to be. Also, friendships will change: remember freshman year in college when you're all figuring everything out, it's like that!

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 Nearly Native or Trail Blazer
Craving the most authentic experience possible, perhaps you lived with a host family or really got in good with the locals. You may have felt confined by your program requirements and group excursions. Instead, you'd have preferred to plan your own trips, even skipping class to conduct your own 'field work.'