My study abroad program was the Bavaria and Lombardia program that took place in Augsburg, Germany and Bergamo, Italy. We stayed in Augsburg for two weeks and Bergamo for one, and it was the perfect amount of time to be away without getting overwhelmingly homesick. In my opinion, experiencing my program in two locations really kept it interesting and the “wow” factor of being abroad never went away since it felt like I was constantly seeing something new.
During the duration of my trip, we had multiple company visits and listened to a handful of guest speakers, both which I felt made the educational part of the trip more enjoyable rather than the standard lectures we regularly attend in the states. It kept things interesting and allowed us to see first hand how these companies conducted their business in their own ways. It is very different than what we are used to doing. The individuals we listened to had different points of view that really inspired us, American students, to broaden our horizons and open our minds. One of the guest lecturers was Irish and his culture made it so that he had a different view of the issues surrounding the EU currently. It was refreshing to be so exposed to multiple cultures.
The German and Italian students in the program were hands down some of the best and most genuine people I have ever encountered. They were so willing to help us adjust to their customs that we were not familiar with. I honestly did not ever think that I would become such great friends with the individuals in my group project as much as I did. These are relationships I will remember and treasure forever because they gave me some of the best memories I could ever imagine. I especially loved how curious they were to learn about the things we do back in the states as well. This truly helped make with making the best out of the whole experience.
Looking back, I am so grateful to have the opportunity to encounter two completely different cultures and languages, and got to see how different they can be even if they are only a few hours apart. Another amazing aspect was the cities SPEA chose were not the big time “tourist” locations and was instead very authentic in their societies. Now, I already cannot wait to go back to Europe, travel more, and recommend to every student at IU or any university to study abroad because it really does change your life.