Amanda Thompson - 2015 Program Participant

What inspired you to go abroad?

I love to travel, always have. I knew as soon as I was accepted into Colorado State University that I wanted to go abroad my junior year. At first I was dead set on studying abroad in London, because I loved the city and I thought that I would have an easier time living there since the native language is English. However, after attending a study abroad fair at my school, I stopped by a booth that was featuring John Cabot University in Rome, Italy. After that, I was convinced that I wanted to immerse myself in culture that was completely different than my own, eat a lot of Italian food, and live in a city that I love.

Park Guell, Barcelona, Spain

On the top of Park Guell in Barcelona, Spain

Why did you choose Academic Programs International (API)?

I chose to study abroad with Academic Programs International because my study abroad adviser recommended it as one of the programs most students travel through. He gave me the option to go abroad through API, CEA, or ISA, and after conducting research on what benefits and excursions API provided, I decided to travel through them.

What was your favorite part about Rome?

I can't say that I have an absolute favorite part, because I loved just about everything about Rome. I loved how I lived about 15 minutes away from the heart of Rome. I loved how I could mindlessly wander around the cobbled alley ways and indulge myself in the smells of fresh Italian food. I loved how at night, Rome was alive with locals, tourists, and lights. I never really minded walking home from my night class at 10:00 p.m. because everyone was still out and about, whether finishing up dinner or drinking Peroni on the steps of the Piazza Trilussa.

What made your experience studying abroad unique?

I think what made my study abroad experience unique was that I traveled with one of my good friends. We both enrolled in the same program and it made adjusting to the cultural shock and traveling to many different places easier because I knew I had someone trustworthy to count on. Also, after the experience was over, it was great to know that I could still talk and reminisce on the experience with her. She fully understood when I was feeling nostalgic and longing to go back to Rome.

Capri, Italy

Capri, Italy

How did API’s local staff support you throughout your program?

Our API staff members Alessio and Naike were AMAZING. They were completely organized and always seemed to know of a solution whenever a problem arose. One time when I was sick with a really bad cough, they immediately contacted a doctor to come over to my apartment, and I felt better within a few days. They were also very welcoming and made the cultural adjustment as comfortable and easy as possible.

What's one thing you wish you would have done differently?

One thing I wish I would have done differently was conduct more research on the school I was studying abroad at beforehand. The school was nothing like I expected it to be and it was the only negative aspect about my experience as a whole.

Describe a typical day in your life in Rome.

A couple of weeks into the program was when I started to established a set routine, especially after classes began. During a typical weekday, I would wake up and take the usually crowded tram to school. I only had a couple of classes a day, so on days where I would get out at 10:00 a.m., I would go back to my apartment and usually rest for a few hours. After that, I would either walk around the Tiber River or into the city to shop or explore. At night I would usually go out to the bars with my friends, which was always a good time. During the weekends, I usually would travel to a different city or country.

Clear blue waters in Split, Croatia

The beautiful waters of Split, Croatia

What did you enjoy doing in your free time?

I loooooooved exploring Rome. Since I left Rome to travel almost every weekend, I didn't have as much time during the weekends to explore the city itself. Especially during the end of my experience, I always tried to explore a different place of Rome each day. Whether it was exploring a different park, museum, or monument, I always loved the element of "getting lost" and often times I would like to wander by myself or with a friend with my camera and take tons of pictures.

What was your accommodation like? What did you like best about it?

The apartment I stayed in was absolutely amazing. It came fully furnished and looked super modern and straight out of an IKEA catalog. I was actually pretty nervous about how the living situation would be, but once I stepped foot into my apartment, all those worries went away. I had four other roommates, but the apartment was definitely roomy and spacious.

What is one thing every student should know before studying abroad in Rome?

One thing I would HIGHLY recommend doing is to plan your other weekend travel plans AROUND the excursions that come with the program. Those excursions are included within the program price and you definitely do not want to miss out on any of them. I remember I accidentally planned to go to Oktoberfest on the weekend of the Amalfi Coast excursion and it was just a pain to try to fix the overlap.

Trevi Fountain in Rome, Italy

The infamous Trevi Fountain in Rome, Italy

Now that you're home, how has studying abroad impacted your life?

My time abroad has definitely helped me to become more open minded and feel extremely blessed and fortunate to even have the opportunity in the first place. I think everyone should take the opportunity to travel and go abroad if they have the chance because it changes you for the better. Now I am even more hungry to travel!

Would you recommend API to others? Why?

I would definitely recommend traveling through API! The staff is just amazing and so helpful, and the excursions and other benefits the program provides is definitely worth the price.