Study Abroad FAQs
Written by Katie Carpenter July 1, 2019
Do I study abroad?
- Originally I brushed off the idea of studying abroad, but this was only my naivety taking over. If you are fortunate to take the time and spend the money to study abroad then the cliche that “there is no better time than the present” turns out to be spot on. Exposing yourself to new places, new challenges, and new experiences early on only sets you up for an even stronger foundation for your future endeavors. This is the prime time to meet people of similar ages and to enjoy the benefits of taking classes in a different country with talented professors. If you are into broadening your horizons, challenging yourself, meeting new friends, and eating your way through various towns, then I think you’re well on your way to making the wise decision to study abroad.
- Paderno del Grappa, a local town away from the constant hustle and bustle that most of us are used to, is the perfect place to ease into living life in foreign place. Sending yourself to this safe haven makes for a very special experience. Completely peaceful and serene, this places feels like home in just a few days. Shutters that open up wide to the rugged peaked Dolomite mountains give you a beautiful start to every morning as well as a unique classroom environment. Sitting in class never looked so good. Studying outside at the picnic tables and noticing the Italian students “secretly” peeking our their windows while making goofy bird noises at us strange Americans brings such a sense of contentment. Life is good in Paderno. A bar (coffee shop) located right on campus, weekly strolls around town with your class in search of gelato, and walks across the street to pick up your Tabbachi sandwich are a just a few memories of mine in Paderno. CIMBA’s location is one of many things that I loved about the program. The other important pieces are the staff/professors, the activities provided for us, and the overall vibe and atmosphere on campus. At CIMBA, everyone is in it together, professors included. Professors understand the difficulties in a fast-paced course and are there to help guide you in the best way possible. They are rooting for you and want you to get all that you can out of the four weeks that you have. There are constant opportunities for pasta and pizza making classes, night trips to Bassano, and afternoon visits to nearby towns. The atmosphere is relaxed yet motivating which always gives you the push you need to excel in your classes while still enjoying all there is to enjoy abroad.
Should I travel alone or go with my friends?
- Personally, I was glad that I didn’t travel with my college friends. This allowed me to inch out of my comfort zone and meet new people right off the bat. I was surprised to find that most people came alone. Meeting new friends is an experience in itself, spending time with them leads to many adventures, and leaving these friends reminded me of the scene from The Parent Trap when everyone leaves camp. So sad!
Do I choose the summer or semester program?
- I don’t think you can necessarily go wrong with either of these choices. There are pros and cons to both. I chose the summer program because I didn’t want to miss out on a whole semester at school. College flies by and I want to make the most out of my time there. At Iowa I enjoy my daily routine of class and my freedom on the weekends. But that being said, the four weeks did go by fast and once the end neared I felt like I really started to connect with the people around me and it would have been nice to spend more time with them. Although traveling is well-worth it, it is quite exhausting. Three weekends of travel was the perfect amount. It made me ready to go home but also left me craving a little bit more. I’m also a big family gal and I wasn’t sure I wanted to leave my loved ones for an entire semester. There is a lot more that CIMBA offers for the semester program, such as classes that put an emphasis on meditating and the brain which I find super intriguing. I know I would really enjoy some of those added benefits.
Should I plan before I head off to Italy or should I plan during the school week?
- I was a bit nervous about planning my travel weekends right beforehand. I was leery that it would be a challenge to corporate with other students on things such as booking a place, purchasing train tickets, etc. To my surprise, this was one of the best aspects of traveling with students my age. The stress and rush of studying for your courses while also planning your weekends was all part of the experience. I would say have an idea of where you want to go and learn about various places beforehand, but don’t worry about booking hotels, flights, etc. Go with the flow. That makes for the best and most unexpected experiences.
How is it leaving your family?
- I’m a big homebody and spending time with my family usually trumps everything else. If you’e worried about leaving your family and friends, please don’t be. We’re in college, it’s time for us to experience something on our own without the constant aid and direction of our parents. No more following Dad in the airport or relying on him to book your tickets. Taking charge and worrying about yourself is part of the fun and helps boost your confidence which will carry over in many situations back home. It’s so exciting to come back and share all your adventures with your family. They’ll be so proud and excited for you.
I’m scared of flying!
- I was right there with you. Last year a sudden fear of flying came over me. I had nightmares and was freaked out at the thought of getting into an airplane. I’ve watched a lot of videos and have brushed up on some facts about how safe flying is. I almost let this be a driving factor in whether or not I studied abroad. I knew that choosing fear over adventure would be a terrible choice so I toughed it out and put myself up to the challenge of flying over the Atlantic on a 9 hour flight. Some helpful tips that helped me were to think of flying as purely an exciting experience. Look out the window and think about how cool it is that you’re sitting in a plane, flying over new territory, on your way to a beautiful, new place. You get the chance to be sitting in a comfy seat, while watching a movie, eating snacks, or reading a book. Don’t think of flying as something scary. Get that out of your mind and focus on all the positives there are. I also found it helpful to sit near a window when at the airport to take in all the planes that are constantly flying in and out. Thousands of airplanes that safely fly around the world everyday. I just happen to be on one of them! Flying is more safe than anything else I’ll be doing that day. Put your headphones in, crank up the music, look out the window, and enjoy this crazy cool manmade invention.