Why did you decide to study abroad with IES Abroad in Rome, Italy?
Alexi: I actually took French for the better part of my life, but I decided on somewhat of a whim that fabulous pasta was a definite prerequisite for my abroad experience. I took a semester of Italian at Emory and looked into a few major programs my school offered. IES has a very positive track record at Emory and several of my sorority sisters had studied in Italy through the program and found it to be well organized with a variety of interesting class options, from International Relations to Art History courses with an emphasis on field studies. Ultimately, it came down to Rome or Milan and I felt that I could absorb the most in terms of the amazing art and cultural foundations of the country in Rome. I lucked out: the school is a 10 minute walk from the Vatican--it was amazing!
What made your study abroad experience unique and special?
Alexi: One of the most special aspects of my experience was living with an ISC, an Italian Student Companion. My ISC Susanna wasn't simply another roommate, but became a very close friend. She introduced me and my five other American roommates to all of her friends, planned dinner parties and dancing excursions for us, and made an overall tremendous effort to incorporate us into her life as an Italian 20-something. I doubt that I could have gotten the same immersion experience anywhere else. The ISC feature is truly the perfect set-up; you have the autonomy of apartment living with a built-in indigenous experience. There are a million and one things about Italy I absolutely loved, from the proximity to Gianicolo, the most beautiful overlook of the entire city, to the killer gnocchi and perfect gelato, but having an ISC was truly unique.
How has this experience impacted your future?
Alexi: Studying abroad in Rome was truly one of the best decisions I have made in life, as cliche as that may sound. I gained a unique skill set in navigating a completely foreign environment and adapting to speaking a different language in my everyday interactions that has made the uncertainty of post-graduate life seem like chump change. I know that there are obstacles ahead of me, but learning to live abroad and thrive in that environment endowed me with a certain confidence in my own abilities that I don't think I could have acquired had I remained on campus for all four years. I believe that my experience abroad has provided a great platform to advocate for myself as flexible and adaptable in a work setting as well. A semester overseas can only strengthen your personal and professional competencies so I encourage everyone to go, go, go!