Why did you decide to go abroad with your provider?
Sarah: I first began to consider studying abroad with IES Abroad because of their partnership with my home university. When researching program options, I saw that IES had a wide variety of locations around the world and that they had sessions year round.
Due to my course load, I knew the only time I could study abroad would be during the summer, and IES had a great selection of programs that fit into my academic schedule. The internship option was what sealed the deal for me.
IES Abroad had a summer internship program in the city of my dreams, Rome! To top it off, I heard great reviews online and from students who had previously studied abroad through IES, so I felt confident in what they had to offer.
Describe a goal you set and how you went about accomplishing it.
Sarah: My main goal was to speak as much Italian as possible. Prior to going abroad I studied the language for a few semesters, and I really wanted to make the most of it. I believe one of the best ways to learn a language is to be fully immersed in it.
In order to accomplish my goal I tried to speak in Italian throughout my day-to-day life, not just in class. I would walk around the city and go into local shops just to speak to people. When I was feeling nervous about my language skills I reminded myself that regardless of the length of the conversation, every little bit helped and that language was just another way to immerse myself in the beautiful Italian culture.
Did you run into a language barrier? Did you ever think you knew more/less of the language?
Sarah: While I had some background in Italian, there was definitely still a language barrier. During my internship, there were times when I was alone working in the studio and people walking by would come in to look at the pieces.
While I can carry a conversation in Italian, students typically do not learn technical ceramics terms, so I found myself playing charades with some of the people who came in. There was also a bit of a barrier with my boss, who spoke some English, but it was very clearly not his first language.
This was a great learning experience for both of us and we spent a lot of time speaking in both languages and practicing with one another.
How has this experience impacted your future?
Sarah: My experience abroad definitely had an impact on me both professionally and personally. I have always been passionate about study abroad, and my experience with the IES Abroad staff before, during, and after the trip solidified my desire to work in the field.
The internship program that I participated in allowed me to work with an Italian ceramics artist, where I was able to spread awareness of the studio to universities with study abroad programs in the area, challenging me both within my desired field and artistically. My time abroad gave me invaluable work experience and helped to expand my world view in ways I never could have expected.
Do you feel you got a chance to see the city from a local's perspective?
Sarah: I do think I got the chance to see the city from a local’s perspective. IES takes a more hands-off approach to study abroad. We had a comprehensive orientation session in the beginning, but after that we really were able to explore the city freely.
The professors at the IES center also frequently held class around the city, so we were never just learning; we were also experiencing. I was lucky enough to live in an apartment with an Italian Student Companion (ISC). My ISC was amazing and she showed us many of Rome’s hidden gems that I definitely do not think I would have seen without her. Living with an Italian roommate also allowed me to truly immerse myself in the Italian culture.