Today it rained. I didn’t have class until 2:30, my beginners’ Italian course. Being almost done with classes, this class has been the hardest for me. Learning to speak and write a language in eight weeks is difficult. I have people in my class from Turkey, Poland, Spain, Romania, Africa and fellow Americans. Maybe it is difficult because the only common language we have in the room is English yet the professor doesn’t know English very well so she speaks only in Italian to explain everything. I guess I jumped both feet at the same time into the language.
Academics here are very interesting. I was so used to either MWF classes or TR classes back at UNC, but here I have a combination of MF, MT, TR, WT with each class lasting either 2.5 hours 3 hours or 4 hours but a 10-15 minutes break every hour where you can either grab some coffee, a smoke break, or eat a snack. The first two weeks here I thought it was ridiculous to pause class to drink coffee but now I enjoy a nice break where my brain doesn’t have to pay attention to anything. I am going to miss my breaks in class when I return to UNC but then again, my classes are no where near four hours long, not even my studio art classes are longer than three hours. Of course in art class, we take breaks for coffee because one can only print in the darkroom for so many hours at a time.
Here in Trieste I am taking four courses: Intellectual Property Rights, Entrepreneurial Finance, Marketing and Innovations, and Italian language. I think the most exciting part of any of the classes is that I am the foreigner in the room. 99% of my classes, besides Italian where we are all foreigners, are from Italy. 95% of the students from Italy are from Trieste or small towns near by. There is a Russian, two girls from Slovenia, a guy from Taiwan and two students from Africa (I’m not sure of which country in Africa). I have always envied exchange students ever since I met my first friends from around the world my Junior year in High School but now I was walking in their shoes and being around the world studying.
If I had one piece of advice for students in college is take the opportunity to get out into the world. Not just studying in a different state, but to study abroad. I have learned so much just being away from home. Yes I do miss home, but home is where the heart is. Very cliché, but it’s true. My heart is here in Italy right now but it is also back in good ol’ Greeley, Colorado where my family is. I have made a nice little home here where at the end of the day, I can take off my shoes and know that I am comfortable. Also, advice for anyone studying abroad, make sure you travel outside of the country you are living in, especially if you are in Europe. Europe is a little bit bigger than the state of Texas. Take advantage of being here. Not many people get to say that they lived in a different country for either a semester or a year to study. I am lucky that I have traveled with someone who knows how to get around. So far I have been to Dublin, Galway, London, Amsterdam, Bremen, Hamburg, Venice, Trieste, Muggia, Collio, Florence, Bologna, CinqueTerra, Pisa, and Rome. I am still going back to Venice, Bologna, and Florence and then after the semester ends I am going to Prague, Ansbach, Paris, and Brussels and back to Dublin. In total of 16 weeks, I will have been to eight countries. I only wish that I could go to more, but I still have the rest of my life ahead of me.
I am ready for the next six weeks of my journey here in Europe.