I chose this program for a lot of reasons. I liked the location of Viterbo. Since it's pretty much halfway between Rome and Florence I had access to many regions of the country and was able to visit places like Naples, Florence, and Rome pretty easily. I liked that Viterbo is a smaller town and not a huge tourist attraction to a lot of Americans. I was able to see real Italian life and practice the language with the locals, who were incredibly friendly. Also, the classes offered worked perfectly with my major and seemed really interesting.
Karolyn is a student at Portland State University, studying International & Global Studies. She studied abroad in Viterbo, Italy through USAC.
Why did you choose this program?
What did your program provider assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?
My university and USAC helped me with most of the preparations for the program. USAC took over once I was accepted, and helped with getting my visa and offered help with getting flights to Italy, among other things. I ended up getting them on my own. USAC also did a lot for us on-site, helping us get to Viterbo, organizing field trips and classes, and things like that.
What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?
I would tell anyone doing this program to make sure you really appreciate your time in Italy. By this, I mean to make sure you balance your traveling time between your trips outside of the country and trips around Italy. There is so much to see in Italy and it's pretty easy to get around. Don't spend your weekends lying around either. The biggest regret of my experience is that I didn't take trips when I could have and missed out on some great times and beautiful places.
What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?
In an average week, I had class Monday through Thursday. After class I would spend time with my roommates or friends, going to cafes, planning trips or just hanging out. I didn't have a lot of homework so I had a lot of free time. In the evenings and weekends, my friends would go to dinner and to the bars and have a great time. In the warmer months, we went on picnics and weekend trips around Viterbo.
Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it? How did your views on the issue change?
I was terrified of being on my own and actually living in another culture. I had traveled before, experienced other countries, but I had always been with my family and for shorter trips. Once I was actually there, I made a lot of friends who were going through the same things, which really helped. It just took time to get used to living in Italy, but having friends there with my really helped.
What have you learned from this experience?
The only thing I would have done differently is travel more. There were a lot of weekends I spent in my apartment not doing anything when I could have been spending time with friends or on a trip. On a brighter note, the best thing I got out of this trip is my friends. Not everyone will have the experience I did, but I made some really amazing, lifelong friends on my trip, and I will always be thankful for that.