When I was younger my family and I moved a lot, however I had never been outside the U.S. When I was getting ready to apply for colleges, my high school had provided information on studying abroad which sparked my interest, so when choosing a college I made sure my school had a study abroad program. I was always interested in learning about new cultures and different languages, so studying abroad to me always seemed like a great way to learn about both and immerse yourself in a foreign country.
Why did you choose USAC’s program in Torino?
I choose my program because it was a cheaper option compared to other programs and it provided cities that were not the most common places to study abroad.
What was your favorite part about Torino, Italy?
My favorite part was the size of the city. Torino is the fourth largest city in Italy, however everything I needed was in walking distance and the public transportation in Torino is very useful and clean. I also liked that English was not as common. In some of the larger cities in Italy most people know English; however, in Torino you are forced to use your Italian, and because of this my Italian improved a lot over the semester.
What made your experience abroad unique?
My experience was unique because of my location and because I made sure I was always doing something. The location of Torino was perfect. We had four different airports we could use, one within Torino and three in Milan, which is very close, and two major train stations in Torino. It is a very central location so it was very easy to travel to different countries cheaply.
When I went abroad I made it my goal to experience as much as I could, whether it was going somewhere new on the weekend, taking day trips, or just walking along the Po River when it was nice day out. For me, I didn't like sitting around the apartment, so I always tried to stay busy doing something with friends or exploring the city. I highly recommend traveling to new places, but it is also important to get to know the city you are living in.
How did local staff support you throughout your program?
The local staff did provide support when you went into their office and asked for help or advice. The staff also planned trips within the city, like to the Fiat Factory, and outside the city to Venice and Ivrea. However, on the weekends they were not as easily accessible on their cell phones.
What's one thing you wish you would have done differently?
I wish I would have branched out more in the beginning. When you first arrive everything is new and exciting, and for me I latched onto one group of friends in the beginning and was slow to open up to others. However, by the end I started hanging out with different people that I wished I had opened up to sooner, because by the end we were great friends and it was very hard to say goodbye because I wished I had more time with them.
Describe a typical day in your life in Torino.
Normally my day started by walking through the local market to school. On my walk to school, I would wave and say hello to my favorite coffee shop owners and to my favorite market vendors. My walk to school was about a mile. My classes were around three hours long and I usually had one or two a day. During each class, we would get a 15 minute break to go to the cafe and grab a quick cappuccino or croissant. After class, I would either walk to our local grocery store, to the gym, or along the Po River. Then for dinner, we would usually invite a few friends over for a family style dinner or go out to our favorite local restaurant.
What did you enjoy doing in your free time?
During my free time, I enjoyed getting a gelato and walking around Via Roma or visiting Parco Valentino next to the Po River with friends. I also enjoyed traveling to various different cities on the weekends; I was able to take weekend trips to places I always dreamed about seeing.
What was your accommodation like? What did you like best about it?
I lived in a two bedroom apartment with one bathroom. I shared a room with one other girl and had two other roommates. I lived on the fifth floor in a building with all older Italians and no other USAC students. I liked that we got to interact with our landlord. Even though it was a hassle to pull out large amounts of cash each month to pay rent, we were able to practice our Italian and they were able to practice their English with us. They were also able to tell us about the city and the Italian culture.
What is one thing every student should know before participating in your program?
One thing every participant should know is school is not like it is back in the states. School at Scuola di Amministrazione Aziendale (SAA) includes two and half to three hour long classes, with a break in between to allow you to get up stretch, use the bathroom, and grab something to eat. Also, you only have one unexcused absence. They take absences very seriously, usually if you miss more than one class the teacher starts to take a certain percentage off your final grade. Some teachers don't take it as seriously as others, however, the program as a whole is designed to make sure you are attending classes. If you miss a test, you usually can not make it up. The class structure is a little different as well as includes mostly group projects instead of homework and lecturing.
For most of the teachers, this is their second job, so there isn't a large emphasis on making sure you are learning. However, I liked this type of teaching for studying abroad because it allowed me to focus on traveling and outside the classroom learning.
Now that you're home, how has your time abroad impacted your life?
Studying abroad has made me more independent and has given me the "travel bug". They say when you go abroad you come back with the "travel bug," which is very true because my list of places I want to travel to has grown immensely.
Studying abroad opened my eyes to things I didn't even know where out there.
I was able to see new things, eat new food, and see new places. While abroad, you learn about yourself and you are able to figure out what you like and dislike. You are able to immerse yourself in a new country and do things you didn't think you were capable of doing. I was able to meet some of my best friends as well.
Would you recommend USAC’s program in Tornio to others? Why?
Yes, I would recommend my program because it is a good price and I enjoyed the unique location. I don't know if I would have traveled to Torino if I didn't study abroad there, and now I can't think of a better place to have called home for four months. Italy is a very unique and diverse place and I find myself wanting to combine some of the things I did in Italy with my home culture, like walking everywhere. Each program is going to have its good and bads but the good definitely outweighs the bad, in my opinion, with USAC.
Megan is from Fort Collins, Colorado and studied abroad during her junior year at Colorado State University. She is currently an Intern with GoAbroad and hopes to combine her passions of travel and marketing when finding a job after graduation. Megan studied abroad in Torino, Italy, and traveled to 10 countries and 28 cities during her five months abroad. She hopes to visit Europe again in the near future and one day visit every continent at least once.