What’s your name?
What brought you to Italy?
I knew I wanted to study abroad and Italy seemed like the perfect place for me. My family is Italian and I still have relatives who live there. I was hoping to get a good feel for the culture.
What was your first impression?
My first impression was that everything was SO BEAUTIFUL. I remember the day I got to Milan and the week to follow I took pictures of every building and landmark I saw. I couldn’t believe how much detail every building had.
Moving to any country is an adjustment. What was your biggest adjustment?
I came to Italy thinking that most people spoke English but that wasn’t the case. I had a hard time communicating with everyone even though I was taking an Italian language class. Grocery shopping was a nightmare. Getting around was very confusing and intimidating at first.
Can you describe the process of becoming a student in a foreign country?
It’s a lot of paperwork. You have to make sure you have all the proper documents to stay in Italy and also have to obtain a permit of stay once in Italy. You can apply for a program through your home university or find another by yourself. My home university didn’t help me with anything so I wish I used a program that was unaffiliated with my school. Using a program that was through my school made me overpay for everything and it was useless.
I felt like I had a closer relationship to my professors abroad than I do in the United States. The classes are smaller and the professors really care about their students. My university abroad had tons of events for students to participate in which would never happen at my home University. I really felt a part of something bigger.
How familiar with American culture were your classmates?
Almost everyone was from America. I tried to make friends with more people who lived outside the United States. Everyone knew a ton about American culture. I thought it was crazy how they knew so much about our politics and I didn’t know anything about theirs.
In what ways do you think studying abroad will enhance your life or career?
I think it taught me how to be independent and to get out of my comfort zone. Being a female alone in a foreign country can be really intimidating. Since I conquered my fear, I find myself being more daring in other aspects of my life.
Discovering new foods is always interesting as an American overseas. What Italian foods did you discover and what did you think of them?
I unfortunately was very disappointed with Italian food. All the foods we think are Italian in America don’t exist in Italy. They don’t like to eat meat with their pasta (meatballs with spaghetti isn’t a thing). They don’t like to load their pizzas with a million toppings. They don’t eat much meat in general. This was a complete shock to me. I find American Italian food to be more tasty.
If you had some friends visiting Italy for only 24 hours, what would you suggest that they see or do?
I would take them to the Duomo and climb the top of it with them. That was an experience I will never forget. I would also take them for aperitivo in Milan! Aperitivo was amazing since you can eat all you can for only about 7-11 Euros (the price of a drink)! I think walking around and taking in all the sights would be a great way to end the day. I would take them to a club if they weren’t too tired since the nightlife is great in Milan!
Want to see what Kristen is up to these days? Check out her Youtube channel.