Erin Wilson - 2014 Program Participant

Sunset in Torino, Italy

Torino sunset from my favorite hike in the city

What attracted you to study abroad?

I have always had a love of travel, and I decided after my sophomore year that I wanted to study abroad to have a cultural experience!

Why did you choose USAC?

Honestly, I initially chose USAC because they are one of the least expensive study abroad providers out there. I had no clue where I wanted to go or what I would study (I had a bit of freedom with my course schedule, due to being ahead in my curriculum). When I met with my adviser at school I told her that I wanted a program that was similar to my in-state tuition; she immediately directed me towards USAC.

What was your favorite part about Torino?

There are multiple favorite parts. Torino is great because it is centrally located in the continent of Europe, making it very easy to travel to other countries (especially by train, my favorite). It also has very few foreigners living in the city, so it's possible to really learn Italian, meet locals, and experience the culture of Italy. Lastly, Torino is one of the greenest cities in Italy. There is a beautiful park with sidewalks next to the Po River that runs all the way from downtown to the school. Parco Valentino was one of my favorite places to go!

What made your program unique?

This program is unique because it provides students with the option to live in the fourth largest city in Italy, but still learn about and experience the authentic culture of Italy.

How supportive were the local staff throughout your program?

The USAC staff was AMAZING. They were consistently there for us if we needed their help with anything (they helped me decipher between the different types of milk at the store!). All four of the on site staff are very knowledgeable and fluent in multiple languages, which often helped with students' travel needs.

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

I wish I had stayed a full year, instead of a semester.

What was a normal day like for you in Torino?

A normal day...we will use Friday as an example. Option 1: Wake up, eat, go to class, go home, go for a run or walk in the park, meet up with friends for a museum visit or stroll around the downtown shops, dinner or cook at home, head out to a local pub, maybe go dancing at a discoteca, eat a kebab, go home and sleep! Option 2: Wake up, eat, go to class, go home and grab bags, head to the train station/bus stop/airport, and leave to another country for the weekend! Have the time of my life, then return home to Torino!

I loved traveling outside of Torino, but my favorite part outside of the day-to-day schedule was simply making Torino my home. Learning the bus routes, visiting local bars (coffee shops) and gelato shops, meeting friends downtown, seeing what Torino had to offer!

Snowboarding in Bardonecchia, Italy

Boarding with friends in Bardonecchia (the ski resort that hosted the 2006 Winter Olympics) - it's just a train ride away from Torino!

What did you enjoy doing on your free time most?

Travelling! Being able to jump on a train and go visit another city in Italy, or even a new country.

What type of accommodation did you choose to have in Torino? What did you like about it? 

I chose to live near the school. Torino has three options: downtown, midtown, and by the school. I was in a shared apartment with two other girls and absolutely loved both of them. We still hang out when we can! I chose to live by the school because it would be a three minute walk to class each day, somewhere I knew I would be going almost every day. I loved it and hated it.

Waking up and going to class was SO simple and perfect, but when we wanted to go out to a museum, pub, or disco on the weekends we had to bus or take the metro downtown, usually a 30 minute commute. However, once we figured out the metro schedule (doesn't stay open ALL night) and the night bus schedule, we figured it out! If you enjoy an easy commute to somewhere you have to go every day, live in midtown or by the school. If you don't mind a commute and plan to go out a TON, then live downtown!

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

More than I can even express. I have changed my career path, so I would say quite drastically. I have used my study abroad experience to help myself land jobs and internships, and it grew my confidence like crazy. I don't get as stressed about minute details or when things don't go exactly as planned. I scored an internship in my study abroad office at school as a USAC student adviser, and I even landed an internship with USAC following that! I'm so excited about pursuing my new passion of travel, international education, and study abroad work; I hope to teach English abroad as well.