If I could sum up my experience abroad, I would quote the Italian saying,’amore troverà la via, which directly translates to love will find the way. Throughout my time in Bologna, Italy and through each interaction and experience, my love for learning and passion for the culture always prevailed. 180 days I spent abroad – these 180 days were spent full of love. Although at times it was incredibly challenging, I wouldn’t trade it for the world. As a first-generation college student, getting the opportunity to not only attend college but to travel to another part of the world was once of a lifetime. Since I am from Bloomington, I have lived at home for all my college career – and this experience was the first time I was on my own. At first, I felt a mixture of terrified and excited to see a part of the world I nor my family has ever been – Europe. Moreover, I was so excited to be immersed in a culture and language I have been studying for the last two years and fell in love with here at Indiana University. Although I was going to miss my family and the home I have cultivated at IU, I was excited to take this monumental step for not only my academic career but my life experience.
The Bologna Consortial Studies Program (BCSP) through Indiana University was the program I chose for my study abroad experience. It is a semester-long program that is completely immersive: we attend classes at the University of Bologna, live with Italians, and participate in excursions around Italy. In the beginning, I had no idea how immersive it truly would be and how much of the culture I would get to know. Not only has my language capabilities expanded, but I have gained a first-hand insight in the culture and developed connections with the people of Italy.
During my time abroad, I visited eleven cities, nine of which were in Italy. I visited famous areas like Venice and Florence but also had the opportunity to explore hidden gems of Italy such as Ravenna and Parma. I gained a new appreciation for art and history that I didn’t expect initially. With each place I visited, the stronger my connection to Italy felt. I was enrolled in five courses, two which were under BCSP, on Italian language and European history during 1846-1945. The other three courses I attended were at the University of Bologna alongside Italian students. I was enrolled in a master’s level archaeology class that focused on Emilia-Romagna, a cultural anthropology class focused on dance, and my favorite of them all, a women’s Italian literature focused on the works of Elena Ferrante and migrant women stories. Little did I know that this specific course would spark such a great interest within me. In the future my Italian honors thesis will focus on these topics and I hope to expand my knowledge as I continue my undergraduate studies at IU. In all honestly, I never have been pushed harder academically. Despite being challenging at times, this gave me the motivation to try harder, study more, and use my resources. I gave my all into the coursework – and I couldn’t be more excited to use these skills in my future courses at IU.
This experience has meant the world to me, and I really have gained an experience no one can ever take away. It has enhanced my language, my education, but moreover my life experience. I am eternally grateful to have been given this opportunity to study abroad – it truly has fueled my love and passion for my education and discovering new cultures. Bologna will always have a piece of my heart.