Chief Etheridge - 2015 Program Participant

A view of the Vatican at sunset

Picture I took of the Vatican at sunset

Why did you decide to apply for an international program?

I decided to apply for an international program because I thoroughly enjoy traveling. Although I did not know any Italian, I was still looking for some way to be able to go to another country for January term this year. I wanted to dive into a new culture and learn as much as I could, given that I only had a month to experience it.

Why did you choose IES Abroad in Rome?

I chose the IES Abroad Rome program because I wanted to visit somewhere that was different. I had never considered going to Italy when I got to college, but after realizing that this program was not only one of the more interesting programs, but also one of the longest trips in comparison to the other programs, I was hooked. To be able to spend a month in a city that I had only learned about in history classes and wanted to know more about was an opportunity that I could not pass up.

What was your favorite part about Rome?

My favorite part about the location was the history that the city of Rome possesses. I had only learned and heard about the ancient city and I truly appreciated all that the city had to offer during my time there. The streets may have been old, but the people brought the youth out of the streets and into the atmosphere that surrounded us.

What made your program unique?

What makes it unique is that what we learned about in the powerpoint slideshows was right outside our doors. We were able to take field study days and adventure out into Rome to actually see the churches, monuments, and environments that we were learning about in class, and I thought that made for an astounding experience.

How did local IES Abroad staff support you throughout your program?

The staff of the IES Abroad Rome program were fantastic and always willing to help in any way possible. They wanted us to have the best experience we could with our time there and it was great that they were able to set up certain events and trips for us. If I had tried to set up a whole weekend trip to Naples, Pompeii, and to see Mount Vesuvius, it may have been a good weekend; but with IES Abroad setting that up for us, it was a trip I will never forget.

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

The only thing that I wish I could have done differently was attend more of the IES Abroad activities that were set up for us. Although I did go to many of the activities set up, such as Italian cooking, going on a tour of an ancient area of Rome, and the trattorias, where we could eat at places we never would have found on our own, I did venture out a lot with some of the people in my group just to go and see what was around the area. I only wish that I could have done more of that venturing with knowledgeable IES Abroad staff, such as my professor in particular Gionni Ponti.

A bridge in Rome, Italy

Bridge across from the IES Rome Center

Describe a day in the life of your program.

A day in the life of the program would start with waking up and walking to class in the morning. We would have class for about an hour and a half, have a short break, and then finish with the last hour and a half left. I would then go get lunch with some of the people in my class, and then we would usually walk around and try to find something that we had not seen before in the city.

We would then find our way back to our apartment and relax for a bit, then go out and get a snack or find a place to hang out for a little while, like a café or a park near a monument we were going to see, until dinner came around. Then we would go get dinner, usually with people from our class and a few people from outside of the class, and eat talk about the day. Then to end the night we would find a place to hang out for an hour or two, and then head back to the apartment.

What did you enjoy doing outside of your coursework and scheduled activities?

I enjoyed walking by the Vatican every single day on the way to the program and on the way to my apartment. Although it is not much of an "activity", being able to walk past an iconic piece of history, that I had only seen on TV and in movies before, was breathtaking.

What type of accommodation did you have? What did you like best about it?

I lived in an apartment right in the city. I lived with four other guys, three other students from Wofford and one Italian student who worked with IES Abroad. It was a spacious apartment for five people and the location was great as it was only about fifteen minutes away from the IES Abroad center. I enjoyed being able to make our own food on occasion, and it was nice being able to live with guys that I did not necessarily know all that well, even though we all go to the same school.

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

My program helped me form great friendships with people from Wofford who I did not know that well prior to the program and also helped me gain more confidence in unknown environments. While at home or at college, I get into a daily routine that is considered to be safe and within my comfort zone. After visiting Italy with the IES Abroad program, I was put into many situations where I had no idea what I was doing or saying, basically I was having to problem solve a lot. This has helped me become more of a problem solver back in the United States, where although I may not be outside of my comfort zone often, whenever I am I feel prepared to handle the situation.