Ashton Nicole Proctor - 2014 Program Participant

Visiting the Colosseum and Roman Forum in Rome, Italy

Ashton and three of her roommates on one of their many visits to the Colosseum and Roman Forum. Ashton loved that this famous landmark was only a few metro stops away from their apartment! 

Why did you decide to apply for a study abroad program?

There was never a doubt in my mind about whether or not to study abroad. I love America and my home university, but I just knew I had to get out of my “bubble” and explore all that the world has to offer.

Why did you choose Rome in particular?

Italy was a no-brainer—I love the language, the food, and the people. I had a tough time deciding between Rome and Florence. It ultimately came down to the fact that, in Rome, I would never be done exploring; there is just so much to see! I left after four months with a list of things I needed to see upon my return.

Why did you select CEA Study Abroad over other organizations?

I researched my options extensively, and let me tell you, there are LOTS of options. When comparing programs, CEA offered the most classes that would transfer back to my school for credit. They were also the most helpful and responsive when I asked questions. I had never met anyone that had studied abroad with CEA, so I went completely on my own judgment and I couldn’t have imagined a better experience.

Owner of Hosteria del Moro da Tonys in Rome, Italy with patrons

Tony, the owner of Hosteria del Moro da Tony’s (Ashton’s favorite restaurant in Rome), kept Ashton and her friends well-fed throughout their four months and became like a father to them!

What were your housing arrangements like in Italy? What did you like about your housing?

I lived in an apartment in Prati with four other girls—a more upscale/family area of Rome. I could look out my bedroom window and see the Vatican walls. It was awesome. The apartment I lived in was nicer than my apartment at school—it far exceeded any of my expectations. My roommates became my best friends, my travel companions, and my constant source of laughter.

What makes the CEA Rome program unique?

My schoolmates became my everything. CEA did a great job from day one ensuring that we all knew each other and I couldn’t be more thankful for that. I went abroad by myself and did not know a single person before I arrived in Rome. From group projects, going to markets, to our first weekend excursion in Florence, to the “Pizza and Gelato Crawl”, CEA Study Abroad did a great job facilitating opportunities to form life-long friendships.

What was your favorite activity outside of your coursework?

CEA Study Abroad had several excursions that were included in tuition. One weekend, there was a day-trip planned to the Ninfa Gardens, which are located in the outskirts of Rome. I had never heard of them, but my roommates and I decided to sign up for it. WOW! The gardens were incredible, and turned out to be one of my favorite activities. After touring the gardens, we went into a little town which housed an old castle and then we had an incredible meal. This was all already paid for and turned out to be such a great day!

What was the biggest challenge you faced studying in Italy?

Spacing out my spending. I went abroad thinking I had plenty of money and that I would be a rockstar at budgeting. Boy was I wrong! I had a hard time saying “no” to going out to eat multiple times a week and those daily (sometimes twice a day) scoops of gelato. I have a serious case of FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) so others probably did better with money while abroad than I did.

Lovers Bridge in Paris, France

Ashton was glad that she was able to send some love to her sorority sisters back home while visiting Paris on Valentine’s Day!

If you had the chance to go back to Rome, would you take it?

I would love to go back and visit the local friends that I made in Rome. Making those friends early on was one of my best decisions because I spent four months getting to know them and their culture. I still talk to them multiple times a week and know, without a doubt, that I can call them to hangout when I return to Rome. I also want to just walk from my apartment to school one more time. I took that daily walk for granted and there isn’t anything I wouldn’t give to do it again.

How has studying abroad impacted your life at home?

Wow—this is such a hard question. There isn’t one specific aspect of my life that studying abroad impacted. Everything is different. When thinking about my future, I don’t just think in terms of what I can do in America—the whole world is now an option. Studying abroad helped prove to myself (and my family) that I can adapt to any culture. After graduation, I plan to move to London for at least a year and work for an international healthcare company. There is nothing I want more than to get back out and explore more of the world.

Would you recommend your CEA Study Abroad program to other aspiring study abroad students?

I would, without a doubt, recommend CEA Study Abroad to others. In fact, that is what I do on a daily basis! Because I was so eager to get others to have the same incredible experience as me, I became an Alumni Ambassador for CEA. I truly believe that I had the best abroad experience that anyone could ever have, and that would not have happened without CEA being so helpful along the way. I felt prepared before my departure because CEA had taken care of EVERYTHING! My parents never stressed or got worried because CEA provided my parents constant peace-of-mind and prepared them for what to do in any situation.

The Amalfi Coast

Ashton said the Amalfi Coast was one of the most beautiful and relaxing places she’s ever been. 

If you could change one thing about your program, what would it be?

The only thing I would change is to make it a longer program, four months was not enough!!

When you returned to the U.S., did you feel like you were experiencing reverse culture shock?

I did (and still do sometimes) have reverse culture shock. The summer after my return was one of the worst summers ever. I had to work in order to have some money again and I just could not get excited about anything! It was hard to accept the fact that being home was permanent and that I couldn’t just pick up and leave again. Going back to school in the Fall helped a little, but I still go through brief periods of “post-study abroad depression”. Getting involved with my school’s Programs Abroad office has really helped me stay involved with people that share my passion of traveling.

If you could study abroad again, where would you go?

I would probably do CEA’s Barcelona program. I met several people, while traveling, that were doing that program and they seemed to be having a killer time! I think I would love the beach and the nightlife in Barcelona. I have a sorority sister that is doing that program right now and I am living vicariously through her Instagram!