How was living and studying abroad? Were the expectations you had of your academic program abroad met?
Studying abroad was an extraordinary experience for me, and I am eternally grateful to FEA for providing me with the opportunity to do so. Some of my expectations going in included practicing the language, meeting other international students, and finding new ways to express myself creatively. I can happily say that all my expectations were exceeded. One of the best outcomes that came from studying abroad was being able to create my literary and art review and meet other creatives in the process. I have created bonds both personally and professionally that will last a lifetime.
What skills did you learn or build upon while abroad?
Some of the many things that I have learned during my time abroad are: how to dress, finding confidence in being the “other”, and learning how to network. One of the first differences that I was quick to notice while in Italy is how people dress, both in the classroom and on the streets. Normally in the US, the cultural “norm” is to go to class with sweatpants and a hoodie or t-shirt, but in Rome, this is completely unacceptable, and with good reason. Dressing up to go to class shows respect to both your peers and professors and shows that you’re eager to learn and be in that environment. This is one custom that I am definitely going to use while going to classes in the US. Something else that Rome has helped me acknowledge is that there is power in being the “other” in the room. Although, at first, this seemed intimidating to me, being one of the only people of color in a room is something powerful because I bring a new perspective and culture to the table. I now know that people are interested in hearing what and seeing what that is, and I am proud to show them. Because of this and the unique ideas I have, networking has never been easier.
What’s next for you?
I plan to study abroad again in the Spring semester of 2023. I will be returning to Italy but will be going to Florence instead. After experiencing the eternal city of Rome, I am excited to see what else Italy has to offer. After my next semester abroad, I will only have a few more classes to finish before I become a Rutgers alumn and have the world as my new classroom.