Alumni Spotlight: Reed Hanson

Reed is from Austin, Texas and attends Hope College in Holland, MI, with a double major in History and Classics. He loves studying Ancient Rome and WWII History, playing and watching sports, and traveling to foreign countries!

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Why did you choose this program?

I have always been fascinated by Ancient Rome. I started taking Latin when I was thirteen, so when I was deciding on where to study the prospect of seeing my textbooks come to life around me was by far the most appealing choice and program! Seeing the Roman Forum and Colosseum in person was a dream come true, and it is something I will never regret.

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

Hope gave me an extensive orientation two months before I flew out to Rome, and the off-campus study office helped me figure out financial aid and scholarships and tuition prices for the coming semester. IES Abroad organized my housing for the semester and provided me with transportation from the airport to my apartment. But everything else I planned myself; I calculated my classes for the semester, bought my plane tickets, paid for my own food, and organized my trips around Italy and Europe solo.

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

Don't be afraid to travel solo! I arrived in Rome eager to forge close friendships and travel all over the place with them, but I never met anybody I was close enough with or comfortable enough with to journey together. Thus I learned that I was perfectly fine with traveling alone! I'd say about half of my trips I took by myself, which allowed me to see incredible sights and artwork on my own terms! And I am so thankful for the flexibility and easiness it is to go solo.

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

I had class Monday morning from 9 AM-1 PM, and then was done for the day. I had two-three field studies per week, where the class would venture out into the Eternal City and study something related to our lecture for that week, allowing for the material to be cemented into my head. There's nothing quite like seeing the curriculum with your eyes in the real world!

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 missed my girlfriend. We started dating two months before I journeyed overseas, so going nine months in a long-distance relationship was extremely lonely, difficult, and challenging. But I would make the same decision all over again. Because, when is another time in my life I'll be able to live in a foreign country and travel so easily? It made so much sense to go now, and even though my girlfriend and I had lonely patches, I would go again in a heartbeat.

Do you have any advice for any prospective student?

Don't be afraid to spend money...appropriately! I was a penny-pincher the first month or so I was in Europe, and it caused me to lose several hundred dollars. I am a huge D-Day scholar and geek, so my spring break trip was a two-day tour of the Normandy battlefield. It sounded lovely, but I booked overnight trains solely to save money and didn't give myself more time knocking off something on my bucket list. My girlfriend asked me, "In thirty years which would you rather have: a few hundred dollars, or an extra day in one of your favorite places on earth?" I was so cheap that I shorted myself time in Normandy when I booked the itinerary, so I went back and booked a different itinerary the week before the trip, which cost several hundred dollars. If only I had not been so frugal the first time!