Why did you decide to study abroad with AIFS in Rome, Italy?
Samantha: I chose the AIFS Richmond in Rome program because it offered me the opportunity to study abroad during the summer in a program that guaranteed me the most bang for my buck. I go to a school that runs on trimesters, not semesters, so it often makes studying abroad with a 3rd party program slightly more challenging. AIFS granted me the opportunity to study in the city of my dreams without disrupting my school schedule.
Also, this program offered the most to it's students in it's all inclusive price. Knowing that my travel expenses, rent, food/drinks, and side trips were all included in my final price was an extremely liberating feeling, especially as Europe can be quite expensive. Having those expenses essentially pre-paid helped me to enjoy my time in Rome that much more because I was able to focus on experiencing all Rome as to offer as opposed to scrimping Euros together for my next meal.
What made your study abroad experience unique and special?
Samantha: This study abroad experience was especially great for me because it offered me the opportunity to meet college kids from all over the nation. I go to a small liberal arts college and as much as I love everyone, I was glad that I had the opportunity to meet new people from new places. Being in an environment that provides the opportunities to meet new people is always very exciting and AIFS did a great job facilitating activities and opportunities to meet and get close to the other students on our trip. I even met and remain close to girls that go to school close to Augustana which is great because we are able to keep in touch that much easier. I can say that my summer in Rome granted me new amazing friends.
From an academic perspective, AIFS had a great program. I loved being able to tour Florence and Pompeii with professors who were extremely knowledgeable about the history of the cities. It's one thing to be a tourist in a city, however it's another to be a student touring art museums and ancient ruins with knowledgeable professors. I truly believe that studying abroad offers a once in a lifetime opportunity to experience a new city and culture from a completely different viewpoint. You are not simply a tourist, but you become a member of the community, and that's not an opportunity that is granted every day.
How has this experience impacted your future?
Samantha: This experience fulfilled my lifetime dream of not simply visiting Rome but actually living in Rome. The AIFS program granted me not only my first visit to Europe, but also a new found sense of independence. Traveling to a foreign country on your own is an experience that will test you in the best ways possible. I was able to truly challenge myself, take care of myself, and be in control of my experience abroad. I have a greater self-respect and know that I can handle challenges because I was able to navigate the streets of Rome on my own.
Academically, this study abroad experience helped my liberal arts education come full circle. Liberal arts at Augustana College really emphasizes going out of your comfort zone to broaden your experiences which then broaden your life view. Studying abroad is the epitome of this belief because it causes you to integrate yourself into a new culture in order to learn more about it and to develop a new perspective. I believe that this experience with AIFS has caused me to become a stronger student because I have new perspectives created by my experiences in Rome.