Alumni Spotlight: Lianne Peterson

Why did you choose this program?

I had already visited ten countries, by the time I studied abroad, half of them in Europe, so I knew how easy Europe was to navigate, and I wanted to be able to travel to multiple countries during my time abroad.

That being said, I also wanted to go somewhere that was not one a typical tourist destination. After going to school in Pittsburgh for three years, I was ready to go somewhere warmer and near the water.

When I started looking through the locations offered by my school, I came across Academic Programs International (API) Dubrovnik. When I saw a picture of the city, I immediately knew that this is where I wanted to study, and when I learned that the program focuses on Diplomacy and Business, that sealed the deal.

What did your program provider (or university) assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?

API was helpful and made me feel safe and prepared before and during my time in Croatia. Everything in regards to accommodations and transportation was taken care of before I arrived and I felt no stress when I arrived in Croatia.

My accommodation was simply amazing, and I shared a three bedroom apartment with two other girls from my program. The view from my apartment was incredible, and every day I woke up and looked off of my balcony in awe.

Our landlord provided us with everything we needed (dishes, sheets, towels, etc). We were located only a 5-10 minute walk from the University, and most of the other students in the program lived in the same building or a short 10 minute walk away.

The API Resident Directors were helpful with any and all questions I had regarding travel advice, problems with accommodations, and finding the best places to grocery shop. The Resident Directors are also employees at the university, and so they helped with class registration and other academic issues as well.

When it came time to organize things on my own, I felt very prepared by both the API U.S. staff and the on-site resident directors.

What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?

Definitely make sure to explore the entire city. Visit the areas outside of the Old Town and closer to the large neighborhoods of locals.

I wish I would have explored these areas at the beginning of my program. The apartments we stayed in were close to the Old Town, but are away from the main neighborhoods, so there were things that I missed out on for much of my time in Dubrovnik that I could have found if I had wandered out of the areas immediately surrounding the Old Town a bit sooner.

What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?

During a typical day, I would wake up and eat breakfast on my beautiful balcony. If I had class that day I would go to class, often stopping at the bakery to pick up a sandwich for lunch.

Professors are flown in from all over the world, and so classes do not run on a typical schedule. Many classes will run every day for three weeks and then finish for the semester.

Class was usually around 3 hours long, with some sort of break for lunch or a snack. The class generally consisted of a lecture and some sort of student presentation or discussion.

After class I would often stop by the Konzum (a small grocery store) on my way home and then walk up 200 stairs to my apartment, where I would cook dinner and relax with my roommates before meeting up with other students from my program later that evening. On warm days we would meet up at the beach before and after class.

Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it and/or how did your views on the issue change?

It is scary to fly across the world knowing that you'll be living somewhere for four months.

I think many study abroad students experience the same fears - language barriers, academic requirements of the local schools, standard of accommodations.

These were all things I was worried about, but also found exciting. All of these fears were relieved once I arrived in Croatia and got settled.

What was your favorite part of API Dubrovnik?

Only twenty-two Americans chose to study in Dubrovnik at the same time as me, and only around 100 students attend Dubrovnik International University. Because of this, we quickly got to know each other and became friends, despite coming from all different parts of the U.S. and a variety of majors and backgrounds.

We were also forced to step out of our comfort zones and interact with locals regularly. The locals were often eager and willing to engage in conversation, and we were able develop many relationships with local waiters, bartenders, and store employees.

It really made Dubrovnik feel like home when I could walk down the street and see familiar faces. This allowed us to learn about Croatian culture and everyday life, as we interacted with and learned from the people who lived there.