Why did you decide to study abroad?
Being a student-athlete here at Saint A's, I wanted to add another experience to my college resume. I've always been adventurous and itching to travel (whether it may be here in the States or overseas) so I really became interested in studying abroad to keep building upon this ongoing passion of mine to see the world around me.
If you could tell someone one reason why they should go, what would you say?
It opens up your perspective on not just cultural differences and the beauty around you, but is also a discovery about yourself. I feel much more culturally aware, intelligent, and open-minded because I took the leap of faith to go abroad!
What did you accomplish while you were abroad?
How to grocery shop and bargain with the locals. Outdoor markets were one of my favorite places to people watch and interact with the Italian culture. My ability to speak Italian increased throughout the semester and I was able to implement much of what I was learning in my Italian class and use it on the streets of Florence.
What was the biggest obstacle you had to face while studying abroad?
I am a student-athlete here on campus. Fortunately, I was able to study abroad in my off season, but this meant sacrificing time to train, condition, and work on my individual skills. I knew when I chose to study abroad as a student-athlete that I would be missing opportunities to spend time with the team getting better, so I made it my personal goal to stay in shape and do what I could abroad to ensure I wasn't behind physically. I learned to use the resources around me-like the running paths I would find on a day of exploring my host city and the fact that in Europe you walk everywhere! I also found it extremely motivating when I learned of other Saint A's student-athletes abroad and when I met other athletes in the API program.
What was the most memorable experience you had while studying abroad?
Traveling without a student travel agency took some courage, but I felt way more accomplished when I was able to travel with 2 or 3 friends and book the hotel/hostel ourselves, use maps to get around (without the use of the iPhone!), and navigate the city by use of trains and buses. During Easter break, my friend and I traveled to Seville, Spain to celebrate Semana Santa (Holy Week). A lot of people I met made plans to visit the Vatican, but we wanted to take another approach knowing it would be extremely crowded in Rome. Seville has such a unique celebration to commemorate the death and resurrection of Jesus. Semana Santa in Seville features a number of processions with lifelike floats of wooden sculptures, many depicting scenes from the Passion or of the Virgin Mary. Various religious groups dressed in robes and hoods organize the processions along a designated route. They continue doing the processions until Good Friday. Semana Santa in Seville is one of the most popular religious events in Spain. My friend and I were able to partake in the events and attend a midnight Easter mass (in Spanish) at the cathedral, but were also able to explore the city. Our roommates in the hostel were of different ethnicities and nationalities, some from France and Australia. Others were American college students who were studying abroad in other cities and countries, but all of us were here for one purpose-to celebrate Easter in Spanish tradition.
Was your experience abroad more, less, or equal value to a semester at Saint Anselm? Why?
I felt like my time abroad definitely enhanced my college experience. Student-athletes are an underrepresented population to study abroad, and I was able to defy the stereotype that college athletes can't study abroad. In addition, Saint A's prides itself on its core curriculum. When I was a freshman/sophomore this was the Portraits of Human Greatness program. Humanities class acknowledged the great work of politicians and artists, theologians and philosophers, and I believe the Conversatio program does the same. When I was abroad, I was given the chance to see things we only read about in primary texts. It made it that much more real to me and showed me the importance of European achievements. Studying abroad increased my awareness of the world and has helped me become more of a global citizen.
Which course was the most beneficial to you? Why?
I took a History of the Italian Mafia class that counted towards an elective credit for Criminal Justice. We studied the various mafia groups in Italy including the Cosa Nostra in Sicily, the Camorra in Naples, and the 'Ndrangheta in Calabria. We learned of the origins of the mafia and the importance of the family in Italy. It was one of the most interesting courses I have ever taken because of its relevance in culture and society. I learned Florence was bombed in the early 1990s as a result of mafia activity. My Italian professor took our class to visit the memorial site where the bombing had taken place. The class taught me a lot about Italian history, showed me the importance of family and tradition, and clarified the truths and accusations of what the term "mafia" means.